Enchanted Resorts plan heads for special election

2012-11-20T23:06:00Z 2012-12-19T17:20:04Z Enchanted Resorts plan heads for special electionSean Scully Napa Valley Register
November 20, 2012 11:06 pm  • 

CALISTOGA — Calistoga voters will be asked to decide in the spring on a major new resort development, the second such vote in just four months.

The Calistoga City Council decided Tuesday to place the fate of the proposed Enchanted Resorts complex on a special election ballot on March 5 after critics collected enough signatures on a petition to challenge the council’s original approval of the project in August.

“I’m inclined to give this back to the voters, as has been requested, even demanded” by resort opponents, Council member Chris Canning said before the vote, “and to let the voters decide.”

On the Nov. 6 ballot, voters approved a similar but unrelated proposal by a Colorado developer to demolish the exiting Silver Rose Inn on Silverado Trail and replace it with a high-end resort and 21 free-standing houses. The voters backed that project by 60-40 percent, according to preliminary returns, after an expensive and bitterly-fought campaign.

The March vote will settle the future of Enchanted Resorts, a plan to build a 110-room resort on 88 wooded acres on the hillside near the intersection of Highway 29, Foothill Boulevard, and Lincoln Avenue. The property would also feature a spa, ballroom, restaurants, 20 fractional-ownership houses, and building sites for up to 13 private houses.

Critics of the plan say it would snarl traffic, overwhelm the city’s aging water and sewer system, and degrade the small-town atmosphere of Calistoga. Residents of nearby Diamond Mountain were particularly active in the opposition, raising questions about noise, glare, fire safety, damage to wildlife, and degrading views along the ridge where the resort would be built.

Supporters of the resort projects, including city officials, say the new hotels will generate much-needed tax revenue for the city, particularly the Transient Occupancy Tax, the 12 percent levy that hotel guests pay on every room night. The new resorts are estimated to generate more than $2 million per year each in TOT revenue, in addition to sales and property taxes.

The leaders of the opposition urged the City Council on Tuesday to back down and rescind its earlier approval of the resort, saving the city the expense of a special election. Others asked the City Council to delay action to allow newly-elected councilmembers make the choice when they are seated in December. There will be at least two new councilmembers once final election results are released next week.

“This is not a decision for those being shown the door … why not wait for the new Council to be seated,” asked Norma Tofanelli, a fierce critic of all the recent resort proposals.

Councilmembers, however, said there was no reason to delay a decision and voted unanimously to schedule the special election.

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(11) Comments

  1. napamike123
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    napamike123 - November 21, 2012 7:51 am
    Let's only hope the developers like Silver Rose get out and help the community so they realize what the benefits of having another quality resort will do for locals and tourism. More money for the city/community to fund much needed improvements without raising taxes and better accomodations so we can capture tourists that actually will eat and shop in town = spend $$$$ locally. It is a win/win. My vote is to support the development of Enchanted Resorts. If you are unsure of what it will look like, they will give you a tour and explain all details. It is worth your time!
  2. shantz
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    shantz - November 21, 2012 11:26 am
    I hope the people of Calistoga defeat this awful resort project.

    The fact that Carl Sherrill is the top vote getter and Charlotte Williams could end in second place shows there is a groundswell of support to protect Calistoga from big development.

    Development projects in Calistoga should conform to Calistoga’s character and serve the people of the city. Calistoga shouldn’t be a playground for the 1%.
  3. napamike123
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    napamike123 - November 21, 2012 6:31 pm
    Judging by the overwhelming support of Measure B, I certainly hope the same people will vote to approve Enchanted. It will be a great asset for Calistoga and bring in more $$ than 37 mega mansions. I wouldn't get your hopes set to hightly for both Carl and Charlotte winning. Carl, perhaps, but he is the only one against development, so if you are counting on the new mayor and council to keep the status quo, you might want to move north. Calistoga is finally having positive change. Support Enchanted Resort!
  4. Ricecooker
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    Ricecooker - November 23, 2012 7:37 am
    I guess napamike knows the inside of Tuteur planned vote count because he was the beneficiary of two elections fixed by long dragged out vote counting by our elections chief.
    The intelligence of napamike is remarkable to say the least.
    The fact is I believe napamike himself will be going south or straight down.
    Napa mike voted for mega mansions, whatever that is , with a gleeful affirmative, the project known as vineyard oaks.
    The simple fact is it never happened and was flawed on all fronts and still owes money to the general fund.
    The hits just keep on coming!
  5. Sean Scully Staff
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    Sean Scully - November 23, 2012 7:35 pm
    Ricecooker - you have previously accused the sitting City Council members of potentially indictable offenses, including accepting bribes and, perhaps, conspiracy. If you have specific evidence of such behavior, please call me at my office: 942-4035.
  6. Zorro
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    Zorro - November 24, 2012 9:53 am
    And exactly why would Ricecooker contact Sean Scully directly? There have been numerous events of indictable offenses committed by the current city council members but the Weekly Calistogan has chosen not to delve into the dirt for a story. With that in mind what's up with the invitation?
    Since most people in town believe this newspaper is only working upon the whims of big money developers what's the point?
    The online section is the only way the community can get the truth out to the public.
    Prove to us Mr. Scully you would like to do some investigative reporting you already have plenty of past offenses to delve into. Why not start with some easy ones? BNK investments and the personal loan to Jack Gingles, Afterwards maybe you could investigate the perks and trips to SF and Chicago. If and when the public starts to believe the reporting is sincere and neutral maybe people will start to come forward, until then the above post looks like an attempt to intimidate, not to gather evidence
  7. Zorro
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    Zorro - November 24, 2012 10:07 am
    Enchanted Resorts will probably hire the same PR Company the Silver Rose hired, make the same promises, throw the peasents some coins just like the Silver Rose.
    Reminds me of my habit of distracting my dogs when I have to leave them home. I toss a handful of dogfood down the hall, they're too busy grabbing the food to notice I left them home. Fortunatly for my dogs upon my return they still have the same home.
    Too bad for Calistoga if Enchanted Resorts is able to distract the public the way I do my dogs, not only will their home be forever changed down the line you will realize you ended up paying for it. Well, at least the people that ran after the scraps are able to pay higher taxes to take care of all the promised perks, my dogs haven't been able to find gainful employment yet.
  8. Sean Scully Staff
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    Sean Scully - November 25, 2012 9:50 am
    If you recall, Zorro, I did write about the BNK loan to Jack Gingles in some detail. Or have you let your subscription lapse, perhaps?
  9. Skeptik
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    Skeptik - November 25, 2012 3:22 pm
    I think a straight up or down vote is a good idea. If it passes you have to live with it. There are many costs associated with this type of development. One would be Calistoga turning into a city just like Napa. High density occupancy creates traffic, noise and water use issues. If that appeals to you so be it. However, sometimes having that revenue just isn't worth it.
  10. Zorro
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    Zorro - November 26, 2012 7:13 am
    I saw your little article. You finally reported about the loan, Gingles said he forgot to report the loan in his disclosure documents, Steven Kay never commented and that was it.
  11. Sean Scully Staff
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    Sean Scully - November 26, 2012 12:04 pm
    And what action did you take as a concerned citizen, Zorro? I happen to know that you did not file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission. How do I know? Nobody ever did file one, despite the fact that Jack publicly admitted that he had taken the loan and failed to report it. And despite the fact that the FPPC has an easy-to-use complaint form that can be filled out online, exactly in the same way that you fill out the comment box on this website. It is very easy to cast aspersions anonymously, apparently, but for some reason it seems difficult to actually bring the matter to the attention of authorities who have the power to do something about it. You have professed a passion for honest government; It is obvious that you have a burning interest in Calistoga politics, that you can read and write English, and that you possess a computer and internet connection. And when the time came to take actual action, you did nothing but come and complain on our comment section.
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