CALISTOGA — The developers of the new Silver Rose Inn resort spent more than $390,000 on last year’s successful campaign to defend the project on the November ballot, according to campaign finance records.
The majority of the money went for campaign consultants and attorneys, according to the final election reports, filed Jan. 31. The developer also spent generously on donations to community groups, including two $5,000 late-season gifts, to the Hearts & Hands Preschool and the St. Helena Hospital Foundation, and $3,035 to the English Learners Advisory Council.
The report shows the developer spent $383,094 on the campaign and still has $7,396 in bills outstanding at the end of January, for a total of $390,490.
Colorado-based Bald Mountain plans to demolish almost all of the existing Silver Rose Inn and winery along Silverado Trail, replacing it with an 84-room hotel and spa, with a restaurant, a 10,000-case winery, a 6-acre vineyard and 21 freestanding homes.
Opponents argued that the development was too dense and would increase traffic and other problems in the area. They gathered enough signatures to challenge the city council’s approval on the plan during last fall’s election.
The project won 1,079-781, or about 58-42 percent. That comes out to about $361.90 per yes vote.
The majority of that spending came in the final weeks of the campaign. The final campaign report before the election, filed Oct. 21, showed the developer had spent $160,670 to that point. That means the final weeks of the campaign, along with some wind-down expenses in the aftermath, cost $223,452.
Opponents, meanwhile, spent $7,200 on the campaign, or about $9.22 per vote.
The opposition committee, known as SOS Calistoga, raised only $8,328 from various local contributors.
This was the first of two referendum votes on resort developments in Calistoga in just four months. Voters will go to the polls in a special election in March to decide the fate of the unrelated Enchanted Resorts plan.
Enchanted Resorts owner Jaqui Safra wants 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.
The City Council approved the plan in August, but opponents, largely the same coalition that tried to block the Silver Rose project, collected enough signatures to put the matter before the voters.
The first campaign finance report for the new campaign, released last month, show that the developer has committed $61,000 to the effort so far. SOS Calistoga, meanwhile, has collected about $6,200 in contributions, but had not reported spending any as of the report deadline.
Project Manager Aaron Harkin has consistently said that the Enchanted Resorts campaign will cost far less than the Silver Rose one, partly because of the shorter campaign time frame and partly because the Enchanted Resorts team has been on the ground in Calistoga for most of a decade where Bald Mountain was a newcomer to the community.