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Residents oppose Lakeshore Drive development at public hearing
A group of neighbours and business owners told a public hearing Monday that allowing a large-scale residential development to be built along Lakeshore Drive would turn the already hectic corridor into a congested nightmare rife with serious traffic, parking and environmental concerns.
While several speakers at a jam-packed public hearing of 30 residents on Monday night in council chambers said they weren’t against development in town, they made it very clear they believed the size and scope of this proposed development would be catastrophic as Lakeshore Drive is already heavily congested, especially during the busy tourist season.
Several months ago, Chris Moradian filed an official application asking Town of Osoyoos council to approve a zoning amendment that would allow a comprehensive development at 4217 Lakeshore Drive, across the street from the Walnut Beach Resort.
Moradian is the agent for Richard Coglon, President of RLC Strategic Corporation Management, the development company looking to move forward with this project in Osoyoos.
The development proposal is to build 234-274 residential units over seven phases, including a mix of ground-entry single-family homes and townhouses, and, depending on the market, two four-storey apartment buildings/tourist accommodation suites at the lower end of the property.
About 60 per cent of the residential units would be available for tourist rentals, said Alain Cunningham, the town’s director of planning and development.
“A public park would be dedicated in the area of the existing ponds on the subject property,” he said.
The subject property covers just over 14 acres and lies within the Town’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), but has sat unused for several years.
It was an apple orchard in the 1970s and par-three golf course in the 1990s.
Local realtor Eileen McGinn said Lakeshore Drive is already heavily congested with more than 1,400 camping sites, as well as the Walnut Beach Resort and dozens of residential homes.
The safety of residents would be put in jeopardy if a development of this size and scope were allowed to proceed, she said.
There are also concerns over existing flooding of Lakeshore Drive and certain properties along the road following any heavy rainfall, she said.
“Every time it rains, we have tons and tons of water accumulated,” she said.
There are huge amounts of traffic trying to get off Lakeshore Drive onto Hwy. 3 and traffic will get much worse if this development is approved as proposed, said McGinn.
A large wildfire or large-scale emergency in this area could lead to dire consequences if this development adds hundreds of more residents and vehicles, she said.
“Do you as councillors … are you prepared to handle the consequences if there’s an emergency and the bridge is closed down?” she asked.
McGinn suggested this development would be much more tolerable if it was significantly reduced in size and scope.
Colleen Linttell, the wife of real estate developer Robert Linntell, said adding 500 to 1,000 more residents along Lakeshore Drive would create chaos on a stretch of road that already lacks parking and too much traffic.
The twin four-storey towers are also troublesome as the developer has admitted most would be for short-term vacationers, she said.
“And we known vacationers want to party 24/7 … and they all have their toys,” she said. “It is not a good mix.”
The dozens of homeowners who own property on the East Bench of Osoyoos would be negatively affected by excessive noise, she said.
Lakeshore Drive is already exceptionally busy, especially during tourist season, and adding hundreds of more homes and apartments would lead to incredible traffic and parking problems, she said.
Don Brogan, the general manager of the Walnut Beach Resort, said there are already serious issues over lack of parking around his resort and this development would lead to much worse problems.
A proposed marina at this development would lead to as much chaos on this part of Osoyoos Lake as it would traffic chaos along Lakeshore Drive, he said.
“It is too crowded as it is and you are thinking about putting another dock there,” he said. “I’m not against development, but the size and scope of this is just too much. The way I see it lay out for the next 10 years is it’s going to be a disaster.”
Deb Cronwell, who owns a small business along Lakeshore Drive, is concerned about public safety.
A second access road off Hwy. 3 to Lakeshore Drive is needed now and would be essential if any more development is allowed, she said.
Homeowner Patricia Hurley agreed increased traffic density is a major concern, as is the stability of the land where the proposed development would take place.
“There’s no plan for a retaining wall,” she said. “There would be pounding and more pounding. Who will be responsible when my lot starts falling down the hill?”
Brock Paton, who has owned a home next door to Walnut Beach Resort for years, started his presentation stating he’s not against this development, but also questions the size and scope.
“We’ve got cars all over the place as it is,” he said.
His experience in the past is council of the day approves strict conditions for development and then doesn’t do much once a developer cuts corners during construction.
“Write down what was said (in approving projects) in blood and don’t change it,” he said.
A gentleman who said he has worked in construction for 40 years and owns a home above the proposed development, said he’s shocked engineering reports indicate a development of this size is possible at this site.
“It’s a swamp and I’m amazed anyone would want to build there,” he said.
The amount of water that will pour down the East Bench towards this development could be staggering during heavy rainstorms, he said.
The developer has realized the incredibly high costs of developing this 14 acres of land and that’s why they want to build as many as 275 units, he said.
Moradian, who listened intently to more than a dozen speakers, said the company he works for has been looking to develop affordable housing in Osoyoos for more than a decade.
His company is willing to address any and all concerns relating to this project, but the traffic and parking issues that already exist along Lakeshore Drive haven’t prevented previous development, he said.
His bosses have hired experienced engineers to prepare reports and followed all rules and regulations to get to this point, he said.
It must also be remembered this project would take place over seven phases covering 10 to 20 years and would not result in a significant increase in residents for a decade, he said.
“Each phase will go through the development process … with public hearings,” he said.
The proposed 275 units is “very, very optimistic” and might never happen, but adding 15 to 20 units annually is more realistic, he said.
The vast majority of single-family homes “would be affordable” in the $300,000 to $350,000 range, he said.
Mayor Sue McKortoff thanked everyone for attending and said council listened intently and will consider all submissions presented Monday night.