Members of District of Clearwater council did not give the green light to Ron Rotzetter’s proposed Bear View shopping center on Highway 5 during their meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 5.
On the other hand, they also did not go with a recommendation from staff that the re-zoning application be rejected.
Instead, they tabled the application until such time as Rotzetter can bring forward a comprehensive development plan that involves, not just his property, but adjacent pieces of land.
Former council member Candus Graffunder presented the case for the proposed shopping center.
“This is what the community wants and it would give a great first impression for Clearwater,” she said.
The Bear View development would add 50,000 square feet of retail shopping space to the community, said Graffunder.
Cost of the project would be $12 million.
Because there is no single downtown, too many travellers find the layout of Clearwater confusing, she said. The result is they just keep on travelling and the community loses potential revenue.
The property’s current designation under the official community plan and its zoning are preventing the project from going ahead, she said.
The owner of the property to the south of the proposed Bear View development is interested in constructing a 150-unit seniors complex. If the shopping center doesn’t go ahead, the complex likely will not either, she said.
At a previous council meeting the owner of the property to the west indicated an interest in constructing a frontage road next to the highway to allow commercial development of his land.
She asked council to approve first reading to an application to change the zoning and OCP designation. That would allow the process to go to public hearing, which would give members of the community a chance to voice their opinions.
Staff from the District of Clearwater and Thompson-Nicola Regional District recommended that the re-zoning application be denied.
Clearwater’s recently revised official community plan identifies two areas for commercial development, said TNRD planner Alexander Krause (the TNRD handles the municipality’s planning function under contract). These are Riverside (Brookfield Mall and area) and Wells Gray Gateway (near the junction of Highway 5 and the road to Wells Gray Park).
The proposed Bear View development is located well outside and about one km east of the Gateway area.
The OCP also discourages highway strip mall development, Krause noted.
Highway access would be an issue and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has requested that the applicant submit a traffic impact study.
The council members felt it would not make much sense for the municipality, provincial government and BC Hydro provide sewer, water, highway access and electrical power for just one development.
The feeling of council seemed to be that the proposed shopping center only made sense if the adjacent properties also were developed – and there was concern that those additional developments might mean additional infrastructure such as a new well or an additional sewage lagoon – infrastructure that the municipality as a whole would have to pay for.
They therefore passed a motion to table the re-zoning application until the applicant submits a comprehensive commercial development study. The study would include future uses of neighbouring properties, highway access, civic services and a frontage/backage road network.
Mayor John Harwood emphasized that the motion was passed without prejudice, meaning that, even if the applicant submits a study as requested, there would be no guarantee that the municipality would approve the re-zoning.
One factor in their decision was as a statement from Rotzetter that there is no land available in the existing Gateway commercial zone that is of adequate size and/or without restrictive covenants.
Dean Redman, owner of the house immediately to the east of the proposed shopping center, said he and his wife Lori are opposed to the project.