Healdsburg’s Fitch Mountain will not be a wedding site

Tying the knot atop Fitch Mountain will not be an option when the Healdsburg preserve opens to the public, thanks to a backlash from area residents over a proposal to allow weddings and other large gatherings.A plan to allow up to 150 people at a time on...

Healdsburg’s Fitch Mountain will not be a wedding site

Tying the knot atop Fitch Mountain will not be an option when the Healdsburg preserve opens to the public, thanks to a backlash from area residents over a proposal to allow weddings and other large gatherings.

A plan to allow up to 150 people at a time on the summit for weddings and life celebrations was dropped, along with permitting overnight camping by groups of up to 50 people.

“We are delighted. They listened,” said Dave Henderson, president of the Fitch Mountain Association, which spearheaded opposition to a city staff proposal to allow large groups atop the landmark as a way to generate user fees and offset park maintenance costs.

“It was a big relief to have all of this behind us,” he said, after the city’s Park and Recreation Commission voted 5-0 this week to recommend a Fitch Mountain management plan that excludes large gatherings.

The plan is scheduled to go to the City Council for a public hearing and adoption on March 6.

Despite rejecting the idea of allowing large gatherings on a regular basis, the plan still envisions small groups, perhaps 25 people or fewer, allowed to go on ceremonial hikes up the mountain to gather for 15 minutes or less to “celebrate, remember or take a group photo.”

But Community Services Director Mark Themig said that pretty much excludes the wedding concept.

The reaction from the community was overwhelmingly against having such events on the 991-foot elevation mountain, which has been described as the “crown jewel” of the Healdsburg landscape.

Most of the 173-acre park preserve has a “forever wild” conservation easement on it, and residents want to ensure the land isn’t overrun when it officially opens to the public.

The property came into public ownership in 2014 when the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District bought it for $1.5 million.

Title was temporarily transferred to Santa Rosa-based Landpaths, a nonprofit agency dedicated to land conservation and public access, but the city is scheduled to take permanent possession in November.

More than 125 residents, most of whom were strongly opposed to opening up Fitch Mountain to large groups, showed up last month at an open house to discuss the city’s draft management plan.

“How did a preserve become an event center? A preserve it should stay!!!” wrote Marisa Mitchell in one of the comments reflecting the prevailing sentiment.

“Please stop trying to attract more tourists! Honor your locals! Fitch Mountain is a gem. Do not ruin it by having weddings and camping,” Jill Alger said in a written statement.

Others said they go to Fitch Mountain for solitude, quiet moments in nature and even prayer.

While they are willing to accept dogs on leash and mountain bikers, as per the proposed city guidelines. “partygoers and groups have a different and incompatible energy,” Merrilyn Joyce said.

She said couples can get married at the city’s Villa Chanticleer, just down the mountain.

The discarded idea of allowing weddings on the mountaintop would have required the bride, the groom and their guests to hike up a trail more than a mile from the villa. The city was not proposing to install any improvements — no seating, no lighting and no portable toilets on the summit.

Our editors found this article on using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

Yorum yapabilmek için üye girişi yapmanız gerekmektedir.

Üye değilseniz hemen üye olun veya giriş yapın.

NEXT NEWS