Zen files application to develop trailer park 

John Zen has met the municipality’s challenge and submitted a development permit application for a trailer park on part of his Alpha Creek lands.

Representatives for Zen submitted the application Monday afternoon, within the seven-day deadline that was set when Whistler council voted 4-1 on April 2 to recommend down-zoning the property to a Protected Area Network designation, a zoning which would prohibit nearly all types of development. The municipality is obliged to process the application.

The application is the latest volley in what has become a war of wills between the municipality and Zen, who has owned 111 acres on the west side of Highway 99 between Function Junction and Alta Lake Road for the past 22 years. The property is actually four parcels, three of which are zoned RR1 and Lot 3, the largest and most environmentally sensitive, which was zoned for a trailer park in 1981.

Zen has made several development proposals over the years and always been turned down. Last year he approached the municipality with a proposal that included employee and market housing spread over the four parcels and would have seen 80 per cent of the land (not 67 per cent as reported last week) dedicated to the municipality for preservation.

Discussions between Zen and the municipality began, but according to Councillor Kristi Wells, council and staff felt the whole area should be preserved. Zen was offered development rights on another piece of land and the municipality offered to buy his property, but he turned both offers down.

Last month, Zen applied for and was granted a development permit to build a trophy home on one of his RR1 parcels. He also indicated he would apply to build similar homes on the other two RR1 parcels and develop the trailer park. That’s when council took the extraordinary step to recommend down-zoning Lot 3.

Zen has indicated he’s not really interested in developing a trailer park, but he wants to do something with his land that includes a return on his investment. Representatives for Zen have indicated they are open to more dialogue with the municipality, but feel they were left with no choice but to submit the trailer park development application after the down-zoning recommendation.

The municipality, for its part, feels it was pushed into the down-zoning by Zen after he turned down the offer for his property and indicated he wanted to develop his lands.

The down-zoning recommendation follows a precedent-setting case in North Vancouver last year. There, the local government down-zoned a property for purposes of environmental preservation and the Supreme Court upheld the down-zoning.

Lot 3 has 264 bed units assigned to it under the trailer park zoning of 1981. What would happen to those bed units if the down-zoning goes through is unclear.

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