Golf resort clears first hurdle

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board members have passed first reading towards rezoning for 46 new housing units at the Twin Lakes Golf Resort.

The decision was made by a 7-1 vote after a discussion lasting just under an hour, with rural Keremeos/Hedley director Roger Mayer the only dissenting vote towards taking the next step in planning.

About two-dozen Twin Lakes residents sat through the discussion, with many applauding after Mayer said he couldn't support first reading. The majority of Twin Lakes residents have opposed residential development at the golf course, since plans were first brought forward in 1995, citing concerns of sustainable water.

Before second reading comes to the RDOS board table, the developer will need to meet a number of conditions — including registering a "no build" covenant on the lot, which would ensure no further development happens past phase one until it's proven there's sustainable water to support more housing.

The other condition is for the developer to create a service area to monitor domestic water, sanitary, and irrigation systems for the TLGR. 

If eventually permitted, the developer — Vancouver-based property manager Suki Sehkon — plans to build 232 housing units over a 25-year span.

Several board members pointed out that zoning for a 150-acre piece of land adjacent to the golf course (Lot 2) already permits the developer to build more than 200 units. Sehkon's application is to "transfer" the existing zoning bylaws on Lot 2 to the lot which includes the golf course (Lot A).

If the RDOS were to deny the rezoning plan, the province could potentially block development on Lot 2 — based on water concerns in the area — but the RDOS would have no influence in that decision.

"Our goal is to remove zoning on the hillside… We think this is a better approach," RDOS development services manager Brad Dollevoet said.

Dollevoet added staff feel "somewhat comfortable" there is enough water in the area to support phase one of the project.

"In proving water availability, it’s still somewhat uncertain. What we feel, though, is through monitoring and allowing a very slowly-phased development, we can get more information."

Dollevoet said it will be a lengthy process for the developer to be approved to create a service area, and he said the project's second reading likely won't be before the regional district board again until after the Oct. 20 municipal election.

A public hearing would follow if the project passes second reading.

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