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The Calistoga Planning Commission passed a request from The Calistoga Hills resort to relocate a planned service area during its Nov. 28 meeting.

The move does not affect already approved use permits and structures on the resort property, located near the intersection of Highway 29, Foothill Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue.

The action was requested to relocate approved elements of the project downhill so as not to detract from visitor experience, said Aaron Harkin, project manager for CTF Development International, the Hong Kong-based owners.

The Amendment to the building permit asked to relocate back-of-house service areas including laundry, a parking lot, office building, water tanks, wine caves, housekeeping, receiving purchasing, and an electric cart storage.

There are no zoning code violations for moving the service buildings, according to Lynn Goldberg, director, City of Calistoga Planning & Building Dept.

The measure was approved 4-1, with Chair Paul Coates dissenting.

In addition, an addendum to the environmental impact review is allowed under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) guidelines, Goldberg said, and is basically a rearrangement of what has already been approved.

Vice chair Tim Wilkes likened the proposal to moving chess pieces, a notion echoed by Commissioner Alissa McNair.

During the meeting the commission also raised concerns about CTF’s ability to screen the improvements from the scenic highway, recommending improvements to include evergreen landscaping of sufficient height and density and to maintain them.

Two members of the audience also raised objections saying a separate EIR should be mandated, and raised questions about appropriate storm water drainage accommodation.

According to Jason Brandman, project director, environmental mitigations have been carried out. The addendum was analyzed in technical detail that was fairly exhaustive and as a 33-year CEQA professional, it is satisfactory, he said.

CTF purchased property from von Strasser Vineyards in 2015 and Reverie Vineyards in 2016, adding 12 more acres to the resort. The two vineyards adjoin Diamond Mountain Road properties that share a border with the Calistoga Hills Resort land.

The original 88-acre resort property was purchased in 2014 in a move said to represent one of the highest “per key” hotel land sales in the country. Although the details of the sale have not been disclosed, the property was put up for sale in June 2014 for $100 million by Christie’s International Real Estate and the property was purchased the following December.

The project is fully entitled for 110 hotel keys, 20 private villa residences and 13 estate homes. The average nightly room rates will be approximately $1,200 a night.

There is no estimated completion date for the project.

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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at or 942-4035.


The Weekly Calistogan Editor