RDOS board votes in favour of subdivision

RDOS board votes in favour of subdivision

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A regional district planner says allowing a 12-lot subdivision on the shoreline of Vaseux Lake is inconsistent with the Regional Growth Strategy.
But the board voted in favour of the proposal last week, ignoring the goal of keeping new development within primary and secondary growth areas. (Vaseux Lake is not one of these areas.)
Planner Evelyn Riechert said the proposal to develop a vineyard and winery, in addition to the residential subdivision does not protect the character of the rural area.
But Brad Elenko, spokesman for the property owner, said the subdivision will not have a negative impact on the environment or the surrounding area.
The intent of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is to manage growth in the South Okanagan.
The proposal in question attempts to develop a vineyard and winery on the agricultural portion of the property, and amend the tourism commercial portion to develop the 12-lot subdivision. The subject property on the east side of Vaseux Lake is approximately 4.4 hectares within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Riechert said the property is part of the Vaseux- Bighorn National Wildlife Area, and the lake itself plays host to a migratory bird sanctuary, significant for four threatened species.
However, Riechert said the current Official Community Plan (OCP) mapping does not identify the subject property as environmentally sensitive. But the new ecosystem mapping identifies the property as having high environmental values.
Riechert said the RGS Technical Advisory Committee concluded that introducing a 12-lot subdivision into the Vaseux Lake area does not meet the human settlement goals of the RGS.
“Vaseux Lake is not identified as a settlement area or as a growth area,” the planner said.
Riechert said the RGS aims to keep urban settlement compact by encouraging and directing development to concentrate where services are located . . . in order to “protect the integrity of rural areas.”
The planner noted the RGS does consider some development outside of growth areas, but these are limited to rural “infill” projects that do not significantly increase the number of units to the neighbourhood.
“If a subdivision proposal came forward to create one or two more lots, it may be considered as rural infill because there wouldn’t be any significant changes to the character of the immediate neighbourhood.”
But the applicant suggests that adding 12 new residential lots should be considered as infill because these lots would represent less than a 20 per cent increase in the number of lots already in the area.
Elenko said the proposal is merely an extension of an already-developed area.
Riechert said the applicant is proposing to construct a private sewage treatment plant to service the winery and residential properties. A well is proposed to service the water demands.
The regional board supported the proposal by a vote of 9-4, but it still needs to clear zoning and OCP hurdles.
Area C director Allan Patton said the proposal is totally contrary to the RGS, and does nothing to preserve the sensitive wildlife habitat that Vaseux Lake is known for.
“I’m not happy one bit. I didn’t sleep well last night, actually.”
Patton said the vote questioned the true value of the RGS and all the work and taxpayer’s money that went into it.

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