A controversial proposed campground on Gull Lake has narrowly cleared another step in the approval process in Lacombe County.
Eagle’s Nest is a private 20-lot campground slated for a 26-acre site between DeGraff’s Resort and Wilson’s Beach Campground at the southeast end of the lake. Council approved second reading of a rezoning bylaw 4-3 on Thursday.
Neighbouring recreational resorts and council members have expressed concerns that Eagles’ Nest proponents have chosen not to rezone the land as a recreational vehicle resort district. Instead, it will be zoned under a different recreational category that does not carry the same strict requirements.
Representatives for both neighbouring developments and the Gull Lake Watershed Society have expressed concerns that the development will not face the same criteria for environmental protection as other developments in the area.
For instance, how waste water will be treated has been a recurring issue and developers have upgraded earlier proposals to meet standards. Concerns about providing public access and environmental reserves to protect the lake front have also been addressed after early concerns were raised.
Some councillors questioned whether passing second reading implied approval of the proposal.
Coun. Rod McDermand said going to second reading “clouds the whole issue.
“I think that creates issues for planning. It may even create legal issues.”
Dale Freitag, county manager of planning services, said staff will be working with Eagle’s Nest to see that they bring the project as close as possible to the standards that would have been required under recreational vehicle zoning through a development agreement.
If planners and Eagle’s Nest backers don’t see eye to eye, a development agreement would not be recommended and council can choose not to give final approval.
Tim Gibbs, who is developing Eagle’s Nest and plans to camp there, expressed frustration with how long the process was taking, saying they had complied with everything asked of them, including water and sewer systems.
Gibbs is confident that any remaining issues can be worked out through the development agreement.
“I’m very positive it will go forward. We have done everything they have asked us to do from day one.
“We went the way we went because that’s what I was advised to do by the planning department.”
Part of the issue is that Eagle’s Nest wants to remains rustic and does not want to resemble a recreational vehicle resort with paved roads and streetlights.
“I never wanted to camp in a trailer park. We want to keep it as natural as possible. We are a group of people who like to camp as camping. We don’t want to go to our trailer park in the city in the country. We want a campground,” he said.
He believes some on council are being influenced by others who want to buy the land and use it for a recreational vehicle resort.