San Benito County planning commissioners Wednesday will host a public hearing on a proposed 96-acre “mechanized vegetable transplant nursery” on Orchard Road that aims to greatly increase efficiencies for early-stage crop growth.
Owner Tanimura & Antle and applicant Avila Construction are proposing to build the high-efficiency facilities over six years that would include 700,000 square feet of greenhouses, 500,000 square feet of outdoor growing areas and 100,000 square feet for the main building and operators, according to the proposal for the commission meeting.
The commission is set to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the San Benito County Administration Building, 481 Fourth St. in Hollister.
According to a staff report on the items, the proposed facility would “speed the transplant process from germination to seedling to transplantation to regional farm fields through a mechanized ‘planttape’ technology that reduces labor and time costs.”
The 1298 Orchard road site hosted greenhouses in the 1970s and 1980s. It was intensely cultivated as early as the 1930s. Planning staff noted in the report that the project would return 91 acres of “vacant, underutilized acres to active use” in an area zoned for agricultural use.
The county report describes the area as a “degraded, neglected, and dis-used parcel.”
The project would be built in six phases over six years depending on market conditions. The highly innovative technology would “reduce time, labor, and costs from germination to field,” according to the proposal.
According to that staff report:
“The transplant nursery proposes to use ‘planttape’ technology, an automated transplant system involving a tape or belt with evenly-spaced ‘belt loops’ for seedling plugs. The tape with seedlings is rapidly folded and packed for transport and unspooled in the planting process, thereby controlling the distance between plants, standardizing the process, and reducing time and labor costs.”
“This would also keep outlying fields in continuous cultivation, maximizing output and maintaining the farm operator’s ability to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace,” according to the county staff report.
The central building would be constructed first for administration, storage, receiving and shipping, germination space, and the planttape transplant system. The county report notes how seedlings are transferred from the main building to greenhouses on belts and workbenches, and then to outdoor growing areas at each successive stage of growth.
Some other features of the project noted in the county report include the following:
- There’s a 50-acre riparian corridor that buffers Pacheco Creek, “and site design incorporates natural flow and vegetated bioswales to treat nonpoint runoff and direct effluent flows into detention basins,” according to the report.
- The property is bounded by Pacheco Creek to the north and west, and by Orchard Road to the southeast. South of the parcel are orchards and cultivated fields, while a light industrial facility is adjacent to the north. Pacheco Highway/SR 156 runs along a small segment on the west side of the property.
- The central building would be constructed first, and is to consist of 100,000 square feet of administration, storage, receiving and shipping, and germination space, as well as the planttape transplant system. Seedlings are transferred from the main building to greenhouses on belts and workbenches, and then to outdoor growing areas, at each successive stage of growth.
- The staff report in favor of the project notes that “hosting the intensive, mechanized transplant process on this parcel would be a highly efficient land use. By siting the proposed greenhouse complex on a parcel that had already been heavily impacted by extensive greenhouse complex, the owner is able to confine major environmental impacts to the already heavily-impacted parcel, while developing a facility that would contribute to the competitiveness and continued viability of the local agricultural economy.”
- The project is suitably located in relation to public infrastructure, and within emergency service areas with adequate response times.
- The report states that: “While the facility’s function fits the mixed agricultural-residential landscape context, the project is not likely to adversely affect other properties. Standard and special conditions of approval and mitigation measures developed during the review process would reduce the potential for the project to cause damage, hazards, or nuisance conditions to persons or property.”
Other public hearing on the agenda include:
Minor Subdivision 1243-17: OWNER/APPLICANT: Darin Del Curto. APN: 025-090-061. LOCATION: 2200 Santa Ana Valley Road. REQUEST: To subdivide a 59-acre property into four parcels of 5 to 14 acres plus one 26½-acre remainder lot, with Parcel 4 already developed with a residence, in addition to building access drives and infrastructure to serve the lots. GENERAL PLAN: Agriculture (A). ZONING: Agricultural Productive (AP). ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION: Addendum to GPA 08-38 and ZC 08-166 Mitigated Negative Declaration to find no significant impacts to result from the project. PLANNER: Taven M. Kinison Brown (Tkinisonbrown@cosb.us) / Michael Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Minor Subdivision PLN180028: OWNER/APPLICANT: Christina Bourdet / John Bourdet. APN: 016-050-048-0. LOCATION: 1271 Los Viboras, Hollister. REQUEST: The applicant proposes to subdivide one (1) forty-one (41.0) acre parcel into two (2) parcels of twenty-eight (28.0) and thirteen (13.0) acres. ZONING: Agricultural Productive (AP). ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION: Categorically Exempt, per CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3). PLANNER: Richard Felsing (email@example.com)
For more on the agenda, go to: http://cosb.us/
Photo courtesy of county staff report shows the planttape transplant system