A divided City Council gave first reading to an Official Community Plan amendment and re-zoning bylaws that could have significant impact on the future development of the golf course at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
The proposed re-zoning, which was first reported on by the Times Review on Nov. 28. 2012, would see a 56-acre property of land that is designated as part of the resort lands re-designated as rural residential.
Up for debate was an application that could result in lower taxes for the land owner, but would have long-term implications for city planning and RMR.
The re-zoning application was made by Mc-Kids Holding Ltd., a company owned by Jack McKinnon. The property was supposed to be purchased by Northland Properties, but in 2010 Northland did not follow through on the purchase agreement. The Nichol Road property sits roughly in the middle of the resort’s proposed golf course.
City Planning Director John Guenther told council the re-zoning wouldn’t preclude a golf course, but it would present a significant change.
“This would have an impact as far as that development is concerned,” he said. “We believe from a zoning and land-use perspective it’s not a bad move, it’s somewhat neutral. From a long-range perspective we would not want to exclude it from the resort but in the shorter-term, in the next five years, it’s probably not a bad step to take.”
In November, Carl Rankin, the real estate agent for McKinnon, told the Times Review the application was being made for tax purposes. The property had been recently re-assessed as commercial, meaning the taxes on it more than quadrupled. The re-zoning would bring the taxes back to what they were before.
Mayor David Raven called the move a step backward and wondered about what it could mean for the resort and any agreements they might have. If we agree to re-zone, does it become our issue if they can’t meet their obligations with respect to the sale of condos? he asked.
Coun. Gary Starling, who voted against the first reading, asked about the tax implications and he also questioned the long-term implications.
“I don’t see the need to make wholesale changes of this nature and taking a step backwards when it may affect long-term planning that was discussed, dealt with and a lot of hours put into it,” he said. “This change didn’t happen overnight, it was long term planning, and now we’re looking at taking a huge step backwards and I just don’t see it as beneficial.”
He also said it could lead to the city being forced to go into another re-zoning and OCP amendment process years down the road, if the parcel ever gets sold to the resort.
Coun. Tony Scarcella, who also voted against first reading, asked if the re-zoning could have legal implications for the city.
“We believe it’s worthy of going to a public hearing,” replied Guenther. “Council is the final decision maker. Really, I don’t think the legal exposure is very great.”
Coun. Chris Johnston said he had a similar reaction to Starling, but he felt it worthy of giving first reading and going to a public hearding.
“We’re only at first reading and just dipping our toes in at this point,” he said. “I would like to hear further as this goes through and give the owner a fair opportunity to make their case.”
Tim Palmer, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, wrote in the staff report that the re-zoning could have substantial OCP impacts on all resort lands and that council “should be clear on the long term intent for community development with OCP changes.”
“This has a feel to it that it’s for short-term decision making rather than long-term. Definitely the financial picture on OCP amendments shouldn’t be tax motivated,” he told council. “As soon as we open it up, it’s opening up a much bigger question on the long-range vision of the community and the resort development. I do have concerns and that’s why I articulated that in my comments as well.”
In the end, the bylaws passed first reading, with couns. Starling and Scarcella voting against it. From here it will proceed to further readings and a public hearing.