Dennis Wendt in cahoots with Rio Dell’s Development Director?

Our story is set in the sleepy, sunny little Hamlet of Rio Dell where pretty much nothing exciting happens. Like, ever. (Unless you count the delicious pizza pies they whip up at the Pizza Factory – we can’t get enough of them.)

Eager to capitalize on the burgeoning potential of marijuana related entrepreneurship in Humboldt County, Rio Dell has wisely moved to get some sort of policy governing cultivation, manufacturing, and laboratory testing of marijuana products.

Now, enter Dennis Wendt – of Dennis Wendt Construction – with a plan to develop a mega hash lab in Rio Dell that would fall under the City’s marijuana ordinances. THC assumes that Wendt’s proposal is a little more sophisticated – and less dangerous – than the butane hash labs blowing up all over the County. Such a project must eventually go before the Rio Dell Planning Commission – but first they have to develop the guidelines to govern such an endeavor.

Now, Wendt apparently hasn’t made himself overly popular these days (search “Wendt” on Humboldt County Craigslist’s “rants and raves” section – we dare you!), but THC doesn’t know of the reasons behind that. What we do know about is the potentially inappropriate relationship he has with Rio Dell’s Community Development Director, Kevin Caldwell.

It’s THC’s understanding that Caldwell lobbied, and lobbied hard, for the City of Rio Dell to allow the type of projects that Dennis Wendt envisions. As the Community Development Director, THC believes it’s not necessarily his place to push for things in that manner.

But the part of this tale that really stinks is that we’re led to believe that Caldwell also moonlights as a consultant for  Dennis Wendt’s business outside of his job as Community Development Director. Last we checked on the scale of conflict of interest, that is a super big no-no. (Of course, there seems to be a lot of that in Humboldt County recently.)

Now, we’ve done our best to corroborate the claims against Wendt and Caldwell’s collusion, but the record-keeping for the Rio Dell Planning Commission is, uh, lacking. Lacking as in non-existent prior to February of 2016, as evidenced by AccessHumboldt’s video archive. The two recent Rio Dell Planning Commission meetings which focus on pot are available – but only one has working audio, and THC is told that the questionable lobbying tactics employed by Caldwell took place some time in January. (Our guess is the January 14th P.C. meeting.)

If true, this is a troubling situation for a number of reasons, but most importantly because there’s just no way in hell it’s okay for Caldwell and Wendt to be working together on a project that Caldwell has a significant role in getting approved.

So, we put it to you, good readers of THC, to tell us anything you may know about the situation. And be assured that we’ll keep a closer eye on ol’ Rio Dell in the future.

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11 Responses to Dennis Wendt in cahoots with Rio Dell’s Development Director?

  1. Henchman Of Justice says:

    Caldwell is the last name of a former planner for Humboldt County while Tom Conlon was director of planning and building prior to Kirk Girard. Any relation?

    Humboldt County is a corruptive mess, where former uppidy uppers in gubbamint get cush private sector consulting jobs, or water district jobs, or realtor jobs, get selected for boards, commissions, measure z committees and shit like that.

    Rio Dell AKA Real Hell


  2. Henchman Of Justice says:

    Rio Dell,

    Where Nancy Fleming fled too.

    Where the attorney firm (Mitchel, Brisso, Vrieze, Delaney, Gans, etc…) represents yet another gubbamint client.

    Collusion THC is local grass roots democratic mob rule gubbamint, attorneys/judges and local business movers and shakers (no more than 1% of total county businesses, and a few outsiders)


  3. living the dream says:

    Its no secret how out of the few incorporated cities we lag in infrastusture. We do excel in overcharging the taxpayers of this little town double what Beverly hills residents pay for. Water. Sewer and above all else were gun ho with are finest to enforce traffic laws in a city that does not have the common sense to put a line down the middle of the road let alone fix them properly but wait , now they need new cars to thrash as they commute at their digressions to home and wherever else they feel like at our expense. Gee wally we need a police force to protect the half dozen businesses with no bank or real duties other than using the town as a obstacle course for the rookies who might of slipped up , as they advance onto bigger and better things. It is no secret that transperency is of no consequence to this ailing town.


  4. Council Watcher says:

    Rio Dell is a nice quiet town. The last thing we need is Big Weed. I for one would vote to recall any Council Person or Planning Commissioner that votes to allow a hash lab here. There’s lots of other places, we don’t have to drag our town that way.


    • Henchman Of Justice says:

      Yes, because Rio Dell AKA Real Hell already got zombied out by the meth heads and does not need to go backwards with a concentrated cannabidiol crystal paste manufacturing plant. Totally understandable.


  5. Sammy says:

    There are some pretty funny things said in these posts, THC. And one wonders still, how folks en masse seem to have memory issues with regard to how and why Rio Dell and Scotia got their start in the first place. Trees. Ever heard of ’em? We here in Humboldt have “run out of” trees according to the Environmentalists at least 3 times. Ever flown over? More trees than ever.
    Now, because of the environmentalist fear mongers, the Timber industry (a truly sustainable one) is all but dead. And now, because of the environmentalists agreeing that we need jobs, and because they lobbied so hard for the legalization of marijuana here and at the state levels, we now have “IT” as the heir apparent to the Timber Industry. Never mind the funky processing of an ordinance for an industry that has the potential for doing more environmental damage than any other (No EIR).

    So, along comes a good man that wants to develop according to the new rules, a facility for the “new” industry, in a location where the Community Development Director believes the jobs created can help out the community. Bully for him. Arcata is/has making a joke of trying to fit the industry in there, and the County,…. well, the County is still romancing the stoners to try to get them to come clean and follow the laws developers have to follow in order to be legal businesses.

    Kevin Caldwell is a good man, and has more professional credibility than most. He was one of VERY FEW planners (before he was Department Director) to hold the County of Humboldt and that terd Kirk Girard to task on what was already in the County General Plan to help all of us when Kirk was nothing more than Hitler, Stalin and Musollini put together.

    It is the responsibility of Planning Directors to do the bidding of Councils and Boards, and if those bodies want development and jobs, then he or she should court projects that provide them.

    Snap out of your judgmental attitude and do some actual research. So before everyone calls conflict on either gentleman, talk with both of them. I find it typical that those that were not in the room for 15+ years seem to know more than anyone. And I bet you a quarter that not many of them are registered to vote or actually DO vote. They just complain.


    • Henchman Of Justice says:

      Research 2650 Buttermilk Lane in Arcata, California.

      Former owner and county (Conlon, Caldwell, Garcelon, S. Olsen, etc.) pulled some maneuvers that allowed a property owner not to upgrade onsite sds to current laws as part of new home/mobile home removal construction permit with 2 additional beds/baths now servicing onsite SDS after MH removed.

      The irony is the process mandated removal of a mobile home. The county, like Titlow Hill, pulled maneuvers to never follow up with a tenet of the process of development (Demolition of MH). What happened was a property owner was allowed to break environmental and zoning laws (sound familiar as an argument – MARIJUANA). Then, an internal planning and building department paper cover up process (Times Standard and other media news print sources) knowing the property owner would slam the county for negligence. Yet, in the other hand, the county was allowing illegally an increased density use to be hush hush (whatever really is ever hush, hush….lol) because it added to affordable housing while new construction of a 5 bedroom home and illegally converted outbuildings to living units increases historical density numbers as if “prescriptive rights takings process” (justification for modification of zoning requirements – ya, that actual county Planning Department form) for future for anticipated increased development since there were r.o.w’s and potential for up to 50 -100 units if sewer main lateral was installed to connect to the city main 100 feet away.

      Problem was too that other land owners owned the physical earth for which was the R.O.W., thereby showing the county was allowing one land owner to abuse another all for the sake of “rubber stamping” and “faux inspections for removal by Demolition processes”.

      In fact, the musical chairs when gubbamint employees get caught doing bad is very limited, so it is no wonder when former county planners go to Arcata, Eureka, then Rio Dell, some with a mix of private consultation services as former gubby workers (some developers use former insiders to massage, manipulate, get away with stuff that a regular normal person would not – as I’d formers know this and that and use it as a known threat to blackmail the public because the ” currents” cower to “formers acting now as consultants who have ways to blackmail for benefits.”

      Research is a gas.


      • Sammy says:

        A gas indeed :-). Did you get this information from the project file at the County? If not, it is likely in the basement by now (20+ years ago?), so that would be where you would start if the address is outside Arcata City limits. Take a copy of all you can and then look at the County (or City) Code and the Building Code in place AT THE TIME, as well as the code used by fire department and utility company (Electric is all that was there or was water there too?), to follow up on the demolition side of the permit as well as to check what specific requirements were in place AT THAT TIME.

        Too many holes in your story to automatically determine wrong-doing. All the facts from BOTH sides constitute research well done. Keep at it Henchman, you’ll get there sooner or later.


  6. Sammy says:

    P.s. Henchman: are you or were you the owner?


  7. The video of the planning commission meetings are not being made accessible by the city, we have chosen to record the meetings due to public interest and we post them online and on Access Humboldt for transparency. Just as we do for the city council meetings since the city has repeatedly chosen to not put them on Access Humboldt as other cities do. Video with audio of the March 8th Planning Commission meeting is currently available at and we will figure out what is wrong with the Access Humboldt one so it can be accessed there.

    Earlier meetings are recorded for audio by the city clerk who then types up the minutes from the recordings. If a person were interested, they could either request copies of the audio recording or the transcripts for specific meetings. We don’t know enough of the relationship between Caldwell and Wendt to have any knowledge of an impropriety but that is always something to be aware of as a local citizen. The Eel River Sawmill site is being developed into a large commercial medical marijuana hub and there are multiple company’s looking at developing plans to build there. The planning commission will take it up again at a special meeting on 4/12 6:30pm and then it may be headed to the city council for consideration.


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