Developer wants to build eleven $1 million lakefront homes

OROVILLE – Yet another request to be annexed into the city was heard by the Oroville Council at their Tuesday, Feb. 4 meeting.

While the council considered a previous request to grow its boundaries between Lake Osoyoos and the Chesaw and Eastlake Roads, a new proposal asking the city to take in land on the west side of the road was heard.

The proponent, Bruce Redies, is asking that 344 acres be annexed into the city. He brought with him a presentation on his laptop which was projected so the council could see what he had in mind. He showed the council aerial views of 45 acres of the property and described what he would like to do to develop them. He said he plans on sustaining the current cherry orchard and vineyard, but also plans on expanding both.

The property is between the Eastlake Road and Oroville’s Dorothy Scott Municipal Airport and used to belong to Garry and Esther Sorensen, he said.

“Eventually I’d like to expand to 1,400 trees and 5,600 vines,” he said. “I’d also like to do a housing development to provide cash flow and in three or four years build a winery. For that I’d need water and sewer.”

Redies said he had identified 15 lots that he would like to subdivide at the winery site where houses could be built amongst the vineyards. “I want to develop in a proactive way,” he said.

His goals, he told the council, were to offer affordable, lakeview building lots, creating employment through the construction of new homes. He also said his orchards and vineyards would continue to employ people, as would the winery when it was built. The winery would also help to bolster tourism and “be of general benefit to all services and benefit Oroville in the long run,” he said.

Redies told the council he was “in a bit of a rush” having recently left his former employment. “My current employment is my farm. I have the money to begin development now,” he said.

Oroville City Planner Chris Branch said the development would cause the city to take in the Eastlake Road, which previous developments had avoided.

“… we don’t maintain the road today, but it would be hard for us to expect the county to continue to maintain it if it was part of the city,” said Branch.

“Why I bring this up is that if we end up with the water rights we need on the north end we might be able to serve water outside in the county,” Branch said, asking Redies, “Can you do your project if you had water without annexation?”

Redies said he could.

“The county is in a position to be doing zoning that is consistent with the city,” said Branch.

Branch further expressed his belief that county planner Perry Huston is willing to work with Oroville as nearby areas within the designated urban growth area are addressed through zoning.

“I believe Perry Huston is astute enough to know we are going to grow,” Branch said. “My concern is about annexing a lot of vacant land.”

I hear Mr. Redies’ proposal and think eventually it will end up in the city. I recommend we work with the county and wait to see how much this water transfer covers, we might be able to sell to developments in the urban growth area.”

Branch said some people want water to develop soon, while others want to tie up the water for development somewhere down the line.

“Our policy is to serve to everyone who annexes into the city. If we continue with this policy we will end up with a whole bunch of undeveloped land from which the city gets no benefits,” he said.

Mayor Chuck Spieth recommended city staff and the planning commission review the Morberg-Redies annexation proposal and get back to the council with a recommendation.

The other annexation request, which was made in mid-December of 2007, is for land on the west side of the road and just north of the Rezka Annexation. The property in question is commonly known as the Hoffman and Gould properties. Developers want to build eleven $1 million lakefront homes there immediately with the potential to build nine to 10 more units in the future, according to Rocky DeVon, a real estate agent representing the petitioners.

“I’d like to do this one immediately because of the tax benefit to the city,” said Kathy Jones, city clerk/treasurer.

Planner Branch said the property should have been included in the earlier Rezka Annexation. He recommended the council approve this annexation, saying it would be “straightforward and square up the existing city limits.”

In approving the setting of a hearing on the annexation, the council set conditions that the Comprehensive Plan be applicable; that the land be designated R-3 zoning and that any city indebtedness be assumed. The Annexation Hearing is set for the council’s Tuesday, March 4 meeting.

In other business, Councilwoman Neysa Roley made a motion authorizing Clerk Jones to submit a Notice of Intent to the state Treasurer’s Office/LOCAL Program for approximately $1.5 million in funding for the City Hall expansion and refurbishing. The motion received a second from Councilman Tony Keopke and was carried.