Since Pacific Union College announced its plans last year to develop an Eco-village around its campus it has faced opposition. The project, whose goal is to build a significant endowment for the school, has spawned several opposition groups, the primary one of which is Save Rural Angwin (SRA). These groups argue that the development will ruin the distinct rural nature of the Angwin, the village around PUC, and lead to pollution and over-crowding. PUC counters that the development is a legitimate use of the land as the college attempts to insure its financial future.
It happened that this year the Napa County Board of Supervisors is reviewing its General Plan for the region. During this process, the Board asks the community for any new proposals. Groups such as SRA have used this policy-changing opportunity to propose rezoning much of the land around Angwin so as to preclude any development taking place. The PUC administration, believing in the necessity of the Eco-village project to insure the longevity of the college, has been fighting a contentious PR battle with SRA.
On February 26, 2008, the Board of Trustees met to hear from the community concerning the Angwin rezoning. The primary issues being considered were whether or not to reduce the Urban Bubble (a county designated development region around the village) and/or to zone the land around PUC to Private-Institutional Zoning. Because of the potential to derail the Eco-village project, the PUC administration decided again to close the school (having done so last quarter for a similar meeting) for several hours to allow students to show their support. Over 800 people attended the meeting, of which an estimated 700 came to support PUC.
The private-institutional zoning proposed for Angwin would have allowed the college to build institutional buildings–classrooms, dorms, offices–yet would have banned any commercial or residential development. This zoning, unprecedented in Napa County, would only have applied to PUC, leading some to believe that religious discrimination might be involved. Supporters of the college argued that the General Plan update should not be used to preclude the Eco-village development but that the project should be judged on its own merits. The proposed rezoning, they argued, was unfairly discriminating against PUC and a violation of private-property rights. The opposition continued their argument that the development would ruin Angwin and create a harmful precedent for future growth in Napa County.
That evening, the Board voted 3-2 to leave the zoning as it stands and allow the Eco-village project to formally submit a proposal.
For more details, visit PUC's website.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/390