Redstone development to break new ground
Despite some opposition from Redstone residents, council has approved the golf resort’s plan to rezone and develop the land across from the clubhouse.
Third and final reading of the Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning amendments on Feb. 25 was preceded by a public hearing in which Aldo Sterpin and Vince Pasemco raised concerns.
The one hectare parcel, previously designated “parks, trails, and open space” in the OCP and R1-R Rural Residential in the zoning bylaw, will now be “resort residential” in the OCP and zoned “R-5 mixed density resort residential.”
The parcel will be added to two much larger R-5 parcels on the other side of the street that have already been approved for 85 units. No new units have been approved, so all three lots taken togethe—a total of 5.8 hectares—are now approved for the original 85 units slated for the original parcels.
Opposition to the plan
“Promises of a real resort appearance, including beautiful landscape, paved parking lot, up-keeping of empty lots, etc., were all forthcoming; unfortunately, nothing has materialized,” Sterpin said. “There never was any mention that duplexes and townhouses were going to be added.”
Pasemco argued that the “property will not support the population density being proposed,” and said “a high density development like this will devalue our property.” Pasemco accused city council and the developer of “waffling” on the “original plan for Redstone development.”
The city also received two detailed letters opposing the plan from residents who preferred to remain anonymous. “We, along with many other investors, live in fear of the guaranteed repercussions,” one wrote. “The developers of Redstone Resort are very reactive to legitimate comments and concerns, and they act with the intent to add stress to the lives of those questioning…issues at Redstone,” the other wrote.
Both letters argued that the developer’s promises of five years ago have not been kept as they “pursue bandage approaches” to ongoing “business management practices and accompanied financial problems,” fingering the developer for “greed and desperation.”
“When driving into Redstone from the highway,” one wrote, “the first and lasting impression is a half-star golf resort at best,” adding that the parking lot is a “disaster” and resort landscaping falls short of the original vision.
City staff responses
The planning department noted that “adding another 1 hectare to the existing R-5 zone (an extra 20%)effectively dilutes the 85 effective units density over a larger area.”
The city also wrote, “A variety of housing forms has been a staple feature of [Redstone’s] zoning since its inception.” The memo points out R-4 zoned areas that allow “all housing forms,” and “only the first phase of Redstone’s residential development…features R-1 single-family detached dwelling zoning.”
Lastly, the city noted the “conditions of the boulevards and a general absence of landscaping,” but said that in 2005 the city “did not then stipulate landscaping standards, nor is there a performance bond being held.”
The planner clarified, “For internal covenants arranged between the developer and purchasers, teh city can neither enforce nor speak to the agreements.” Moving forward with new subdivision reviews, however, the city has identified conditions for boulevard seeding and treatments.
Council reaction and decision
Coun. Cary Fisher, the owner of Redstone Resort, declared a conflict of interest and left chambers during the public hearing, debate, and vote.
Coun. Kathy Wallace was satisfied that staff had answered the resident’s questions. She noted that previous zoning had 85 units on the originally zoned parcel, but now those 85 units will be spread out across the larger area with the addition of the new parcel.
“There’s actually less density,” she said, “and as far as I understand, this has been the intention and it fits the plan for Redstone.”
Coun. Jill Spearn agreed, “It’s spreading 85 equivalent units over three areas,” adding that “mixed housing types were always in the Redstone sector plan.”
Spearn also said the “concept of mixed housing devaluing properties,” the idea that apartments in a neighbourhood will attract a “lesser economic strata of people” comes from “days gone by.” Spearn said, “It’s very hypothetical.”
She added, “As far as the complaints from those two who didn’t give their names, this isn’t our business. This is between the homeowners and the developer, it’s not our territory.”
Mayor Greg Granstrom concurred: “We as council don’t want to get involved in a dispute between developers and those who bought into the resort. There’s angst out there that’s outside [council business].”
Granstrom said the plan “fits” with Redstone and dismissed arguments about the loss of park land. “Parkland in a golf course? The whole thing is a park,” he said.
Spearn disagreed: “If you don’t carry golf clubs it’s not a park.”
Coun. Tim Thatcher was concerned that the new parcel is “not that big” and may potentially have access issues. “Multiple units is great,” he said, but felt “up in the air” about the practicality of the site itself.
Wallace asked about protection for the Wagon Road, a pedestrian route that runs adjacent to the newly zoned parcel.
Deputy CAO Tracey Butler responded that such protections “will all be laid out at subdivision time,” so need not be explicit in the OCP and zoning amendments.
Coun. Kathy Moore was concerned by this arrangement and preferred “assurance” that Wagon Road protections be in place. She said, “The original rubberhead is no longer, the Chinese gardens are completely obliterated. What sort of protections can be put in [for the Wagon Road]? I think we have more leverage before we give things away, like zoning.”
Spearn added that a buffer zone for the Wagon Road was necessary and would need to be “looked after…once construction gets going with big machines.” She noted “mistakes were made on the Wagon Road” in the past with “trees gone, water running in all different ways, and aesthetically it looked bad.”
In light of resident’s concerned about what the resort will look like, Moore confirmed from staff that the OCP requirement for “buildings to be consistent with Redstone design” had been registered on covenant.
Moore said she had sympathy for those opposed to the plan, “but it is the developer’s prerogative,” she said, and added that the concerns they raised needed to be addressed to the developer, not the city.
In general, Moore said she was concerned by the number of developments that have been permitted to go forward but are now “incomplete projects and denuded landscapes.” She suggested council should let some of the already-planned developments “catch up” before approving new ones.
At the golf course, Moore said she would be opposed if the question were to approve 85 new units, but since it was just “spreading out the density” she was in favour. She added, “I’m only agreeing because I don’t think that parcel is particularly attractive park land. If [the condos] are nicely done, it could be a benefit.”
Coun. Jody Blomme also expressed “sympathy” for the residents and investors in Redstone. “Things haven’t turned out as they expected.” Blomme had originally planned to vote against the proposal to give the residents and developer “six months to sort things out.” In the end, however, she expressed confidence in the city planner and building inspector, and did not agree that the change will necessarily increase or decrease local property values.
Before the unanimous vote to adopt the OCP and zoning amendments, Spearn commented, “I will be watching! If I’m moving these, I’m going to be the maternal buffer zone on the Wagon Road. You’re going to be hearing from me! I’m not going to have a golf club in my hands, but perhaps I might…”