The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday against rezoning 10 acres of land along Highway 99 and Armstrong Road, derailing a construction company’s hope of building a $30 million resort and spa near Micke Grove Park.
Diede Construction asked the Board of Supervisors to change the designation of the land, which it owns, from agricultural to commercial, allowing the company to build a 50-room hotel that would feature several amenities, including a restaurant, wine tasting suites, a spa and a fruit stand.
But some supervisors believed the project lacked crucial research and analysis to reveal its environmental consequences.
“I want to make an informed decision with the best information that I have,” said Supervisor Steve Bestolarides. “I want to make an informed decision on what’s best for this county, what’s best for the citizens and the neighbors, what’s best for agricultural tourism. This is a good project. We just need a little more work to be done.”
John Anderson, senior vice president of Diede Construction, helped formulate the plan with the intent of generating more tourism for Micke Grove Park, less than a mile away from the proposed site.
Receiving approval would have been the first step toward building the resort. But after Tuesday’s denial, Anderson believes the idea is done.
“There’s a good chance it will not go forward,” Anderson said. “It’s a little frustrating. There was a lot of misinterpretation. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get through this level.”
The project was met with resistance from neighbors, who were concerned that the resort’s hustle and bustle would disrupt their rural tranquility.
“We’re pleased because we were concerned with the environmental issues,” neighbor Dennis Regan said. “I’m sure they’re going to come back, and maybe we’ll have to address this again. I know they’re trying to appease the neighbors, but they’re still building it across the street from my house.”
Cherry trees currently occupy the land, and some neighbors who spoke in front of the supervisors expressed their desire to keep it that way.
“I suggest they build it next to their home,” neighbor Kirby Reiswig said.
Other neighbors were concerned with the project’s environmental issues.
“You’re talking four acres of parking,” neighbor Bruce Keszler said. “That’s a lot of runoff that we’re going to have to put up with. I don’t feel like right now is the perfect time for this.”
Lodi-area business leaders, who thought the project would promote tourism in an area trying to expand, were disappointed with the vote.
“If tourism is about exposing people to what we have here, here was a beautiful project ... that would be visible to tens of thousands of people on a daily basis,” said Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce. “What a wonderful statement to put out to the world that travels up and down Highway 99 about what our wine country is about.”
Nancy Beckman, president and CEO of Visit Lodi!, said the project was critical to showcasing Lodi’s attractions.
“Our tourism area is still very much in its infancy,” she said. “And we need to continue to support it with amenities and attractions as we move forward.”
Some neighbors aren’t convinced that the project has been permanently halted. But if it is revived, they said Diede Construction needs to thoroughly evaluate the environmental considerations.
“We think the project will eventually go through,” Keszler said. “But what we want is a full environmental impact report and for them to address all the issues that were brought up today.”