Plans for a new health spa built by the owners of Wine & Roses were denied at a San Joaquin County Planning Commission meeting on Thursday. There was a full house in attendance and all commissioners were present for the decision.
Russ Munson applied to construct a health spa resort on a 2.3-acre property, the Windcrest estate, on the north side of Woodbridge Road just east of Lower Sacramento Road. The five-year plan would convert an existing pool house into a spa, a 3,850-square-foot residence into an inn with five rooms, and later build a 3,500-square-foot conference and event center.
The new project would also serve as an expansion of the Wine & Roses complex to offer more rooms and overflow parking. The existing property and land had not yet been purchased by Munson.
The land is not marked as Williamson Act land, which is reserved strictly for agriculture. But the land bordering the plot on all sides is planted with grapes.
Don Lutz lives on a ranch next to the proposed site, and said normal farming operations would cause problems for visitors wanting to enjoy the resort.
"Once we start spraying sulfur, it's going to be a mess," he said at the meeting.
His son, Mike Lutz, also does a lot of hunting on the family ranch, and thinks it wouldn't work to have a resort next door.
"There's a lot of lead flying out there. I don't know how they would react to that," said Mike Lutz.
San Joaquin Farm Bureau President Bruce Fry opposed the health spa because it would be permitted to hold an unlimited number of events.
"It opens up the floodgates for wineries to go into that kind of business to get more events," said Fry. "This does not belong in the ag zone. It belongs in the city."
Munson maintained that his past history with Wine & Roses proves he can make good on the plan.
"You have to look at who is coming forward and who is proposing the plan," he said.
Commissioner Clem Lee had concerns about how the details of the operation would work out, but said that problems would fall to Munson, not the commission.
"Look at what Wine and Roses has done for the region. That ain't bad. We've approved things for people with far more checkered pasts than Mr. Munson. Compared to those people, Mr. Munson is a god," said Lee.
Commissioner Stan Morri also praised Wine & Roses, but disagreed with the new project's location.
"It's the most charming place we have in Central California. But this is just not the right spot for that kind of operation," he said.
The application was denied, with four of the five commissioners voting against it. Lee was the only vote in favor.
Munson does not plan to appeal the decision or look for a new location at this time.