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December 4, 2022

Denied: Ruse Developers Appeal Planning Commission

In-town private recreation club hopes to beat the odds

The Ruse, the planned three-acre recreation club at the site of the former Honor Mansion on Grove Street, has appealed to the Healdsburg City Council in hopes to overturn the planning commission’s denial of their permit. 

The appeal was filed on Nov. 4, exactly 10 calendar days from the commission’s Oct. 25 vote to uphold Community Development Director Scott Duiven’s decision that their application could not be accepted as submitted. 

The appeal will be heard by the currently seated city council, but Duiven and the city are still working on a date to hear it. The Nov. 21 meeting will have a full agenda as it picks up for the Nov. 7 meeting, canceled due to “technical difficulties” (microphones at the dais did not work).  

The council will only have three members to hear the appeal, however.

Vice Mayor Ariel Kelley will recuse herself, as she is an immediate neighbor to the project. However it is expected that the appellants will use Kelley’s stated opposition as a reason to disqualify the council from hearing the decision.

In their appeal to the planning commission, the applicants stated “at some point, a council member’s personal stake in or animus towards a project may be so extreme as to constitute a denial of a fair hearing as required by due process,” citing a 1966 case, Clark vs. the City of Hermosa Beach. 

The appellants wrote that the facts in the Clark ruling “exactly mirror those present here,” an argument that was received skeptically by the planning commission, which voted 6-0 to deny the appeal.

That appeal to the city council was filed by Patrick Wilhelm, signed as CEO of 891 Grove Street LLC.