Yes, the City of Calistoga will be purchasing 34 acres of land at the Napa County Fairgrounds. And no, there are no plans for a casino, a hotel, high-rise apartments, or anything else that may be rumored.
The city council on Tuesday, Nov. 20 unanimously approved the purchase of 34.3 acres of the 70.6-acre property for $225,000 per acre from Napa County. The purchase, for about $7.7 million, will include everything except the golf course, which means the city would own the RV park, facilities and buildings, roads, the race track, great lawn area and one single-family house.
The purchase price does not include renovation of any of the buildings. Because the county will retain ownership of the golf course, things like maintenance of roads and utilities that cross both properties will need to be worked out, said City Manager Dylan Feik.
The city has been working for about 25 months on the deal, and has a goal of drafting a purchase agreement within 30 days.
As for the asking price, the county believes city is getting a deal, compared to what the going price would be if the land was for sale on the market, Feik said.
Therefore, the county is asking for a 20-year covenant, requiring the city to share proceeds or sale of property — should it decide to sell before that time— in excess of current value and what has been paid. The city is not considering selling it to anyone else, however.
Funds to purchase the fairgrounds property will come from future hotel taxes, and will not jeopardize the city’s current financial situation, Mayor Chris Canning said.
Canning also stressed that the city has no answers yet as to what will happen with the property and that whatever does happen it will be a public decision. The city also does not know what the county plans to do with the golf course but that they have expressed interest in continuing to run it.
In other action, the city council also amended city code to increase the number of cannabis plants allowed to be grown from two to four, based on a planning commission’s earlier recommendation. The state allows up to six plants, and the city has not received any complaints since the first two were allowed last year. The motion was passed 4 – 1 with Vice-Mayor Michael Dunsford dissenting. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” he said.
The council also heard a report from Fire Chief Steve Campbell on the need to replace a fire truck and equipment. The council unanimously approved the purchase of a suitable truck and equipment for an amount not to exceed $500,000.
The council also passed a resolution that will allow Francis House owners Richard and Dina Dwyer to enter into a Mills Act agreement, which is designed to incentivize development of historic properties. The Dwyers, who spent more than $3.5 million restoring the historic property, will in exchange receive a reduction in property taxes. The council agreed the bed and breakfast will bring a lot more money into the city in the form of hotel taxes than would be paid in property taxes.