Oliver (, ) Mayor Martin Johansen fended off complaints from a owner who accused the planning department of deceiving the town council on Monday.
According to a report, Desert Gem , located at 5753 Main Street, applied for changes to their zoning amendment bylaw in hopes of subdividing their property into separate lots for holidays and tourist RVs, converting each into a strata ownership model.
Staff recommended denial of the reading of the bylaw as it didn’t conform to the town’s official community plans. There were a variety of concerns regarding the individualization of the lots.
The proposed zoning amendment was discussed by the council back in June 2021, where a resolution directed staff to provide details regarding utilities, taxes, and the average length of stay currently and look into what is known as the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) concerning this proposed zoning amendment.
Findings showed that the municipal tax would rise by around CA$3700 if they allow the change.
However, the applicant’s agent disputed the amount presented to the council, saying that a far greater tax increase is likely.
“Staff used a complicated approach to try to show a minimal increase in the tax benefit to the community, used an incorrect assumption about strata lot values and did not account for all the tax revenue that will benefit the community,” they explained.
Based on his calculation, taxation from local community services could be as high as CA$35,000.
Desert Gemowner Scott Nelson suggested that the numbers utilized did not accurately reflect the tax benefit the strata lots will bring to the community.
“I’m just trying to figure out a way to say this nicely. We believe that the council has been misled by the planning department,” Nelson said.
Johansen interrupted his remarks before he could speak more, saying, “I’m not going to accept those kinds of comments at this meeting. Keep your comments away from being personal and stick to the facts, please.”
Nelson claimed that the statements are facts, not personal emotions, and will be discussed in the near future.
The conversation turned to discussions among councilors, who all agreed that the proposal didn’t go well with them.
Councilor Larry Schwartzenberger commented that the main area that concerns him is the transformation of the property from one owner to 48 owners.
“That will probably make sure that this property is never developed into anything else. A possibility for a hotel down the road would never fly because there are 48 owners instead of one owner,” Schwartzenberger said.
Councilor Dave Mattes said that he does not support the idea because it would not be healthy for the town as a whole, and that’s something Councilor Aimee Grace agreed with.
“Even using their numbers, the economic benefit to the town is pretty minimal. I don’t see how stratifying thiswould encourage more tourists and the high net-worth buyers they’re promising. I can’t see bothering to participate in a rental pool,” Grace said.
Johansen stated that it’s vital to open this space for additional options in the near future that are compatible with the communities’ OCP.
The council unanimously voted against the zoning plan.
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