Napa Wildlife Rescue has finally, officially found its forever home.

The group previously announced it had bought a house near Cuttings Wharf in the south county as a place to help injured and orphaned wild animals. But it needed Napa County Planning Commission approval to move forward.

Permission granted. The commission on Wednesday by unanimous vote issued a use permit.

“It’s a great project and really important work here in our valley,” Commissioner Joelle Gallagher said.

The wildlife center has existed for 29 years, but at leased properties. It must leave its present home in trailers at a county corporation yard along Silverado Trail because the county needs the space for stepped-up road maintenance.

An anonymous donation allowed the nonprofit group to buy the Cuttings Wharf-area property at 4001 Middle Ave. This is the Carneros wine growing region and Saintsbury winery is less than a half-mile away.

“This is the perfect site for them,” David Graves of Saintsbury told the commission. “It’s a great fit for Carneros.”

The 2.1-acre property has a 2,824-square-foot house and garage, a 3,600-square-foot barn and a 460-square-foot dog kennel. It has space for small, outdoor aviaries and enclosures.

“It will help us be what we should be,” Napa Wildlife Rescue Board of Directors President John Comisky said. “It’s been a long time coming and now is the time I think to make it real.”

The only hiccup during the meeting was over water. The group applied to use up to a half-acre foot annually from a well, an amount that didn’t trigger a more extensive water availability analysis.

Group Vice President Carol Poole said that amount doesn’t leave room to grow, given caring for more animals means using more water. She asked for permission to pump the same amount a house might use.

“I think that would be fair thing to do,” Poole said.

County officials said a single-family home uses between .5 and .75 acre-feet of water annually. But going for the higher amount would trigger a more involved, more costly water study to make certain neighboring wells wouldn’t be affected.

Graves told commissioners the area aquifer seems to be quite solid. In addition, the Los Carneros Water District is piping in recycled water to replace groundwater for irrigation, which lessens the demand for the area’s groundwater.

But commissioners decided rules are rules, despite what they saw as a good cause. They didn’t waive the additional study needed for more water use. But they did allow the group to do a study in the future with staff handling the matter, rather than having to return to the commission.

That way the group won’t have to “jump through too many hoops,” Commission Chair Dave Whitmer said.

Napa Wildlife Rescue cares for creatures ranging from baby birds to coyotes to raptors to raccoons — about 1,200 annually. Poole expects to top that number this year by 25% to 30%.

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