Land grab irks Graham

Another proposed residential development is falling to pieces before breaking ground in Whitehorse this week.

Another proposed residential development is falling to pieces before breaking ground in Whitehorse this week.

Jeff Luehman, a partner in Meadow Lakes Golf and Country Club, asked council to flip the zoning on a picturesque chunk of land overlooking the Yukon River.

He wants permission to build 27 country residential lots on land once identified for an additional nine-hole golf course.

The land grab is “unfair” and “not good for the city or its citizens,” said city councillor Doug Graham.

Under the proposal, 15 hectares of the 23.6-hectare swath of land will have to be rezoned from outdoor recreation to country residential.

And Yukon’s lands branch will sell Luehman the land if the city agrees to change the zoning, said planning manager Lesley Cabott.

But land intended for a golf course shouldn’t be flipped for lots without going out for public tender, said Graham.

“Land is so difficult to obtain in the city of Whitehorse right now it should be released through a process that’s fair and equitable, and this one wasn’t,” said Graham.

“This isn’t a fair disposition of land process, in fact it’s probably the worst method to deal with public land that I’ve ever seen.”

In November 2003, Luehman leased 23.6 hectares of Crown land near the golf course for the back nine expansion.

Now, there’s no market for nine more holes.

But there is a large market for residential lots.

“I tried, but as a developer I will never ever develop another nine holes, there just isn’t a market and we didn’t want to create a white elephant,” said Luehman.

So, three years later, Luehman and his partners, who include Community Services minister Glenn Hart — who has contacted conflicts commissioner David Jones about his involvement in the project and shed ministerial duties because of a perceived conflict — wants to flip the land into 27 half-hectare country residential lots to be dubbed Fox Haven Estates.

Nobody else had access to develop the land, but there’s good reason for that, said Luehman.

“I’m going through hell on wheels and it’s costing me a lot of money,” he said.

“This has been a 10-year project and we’ve put substantial effort and time into this piece of property,” said Luehman, citing expenses of $80,000 on improvements plus $20,000 leasing fees to the Yukon government.

And, as it stands, the area is landlocked and only accessible through the golf course.

“I have an agreement with the government of Yukon and it should be honoured,” said Luehman.

The city stands to get $100,000 in tax revenue, it will ease the need for residential lots while a small section of the land will still be used for winter tourism and extra income from the lots will keep the Meadow Lakes Golf and Country Club afloat.

“We need to supplement the income of the golf course, the golf course won’t sustain itself on its own, we’ve tried,” said Luehman.

There will be a public meeting on the project Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Westmark Whitehorse.