Developer Jeff Luehmann will have to go back to the drawing board.
City council defeated a zoning change that would have allowed him to build five condos – 22 condo units in total – next to the Meadow Lakes Golf Course.
There was a fair amount of opposition to his plan.
At the public hearing a few weeks ago, several people appeared before council to express opposition to the development.
They were worried about traffic and the effect such a population increase would have on the water table.
Wells and septic beds would service the condo units as well as all the other houses in the area.
Pointing to engineering reports that forecast no significant impacts to the water table, Luehmann tried to allay some of those concerns.
City staff recommended the project move forward, but council voted it down.
Of the councillors who opposed it, Betty Irwin and Florence Roberts both had lingering concerns about the water table.
The preliminary engineering report for the septic system that Luehmann presented was only for eight units.
With the potential for 22 units in the development, Irwin worried if something went wrong, the city would be left holding the bag.
“In the future, if there should prove to be problems with either the wells or the septic fields, the developer will have long sold his interests and problems to the new owners,” she said. “Someone will have to take responsibility.”
Coun. Dave Stockdale, echoed their concerns.
“There are too many unknowns about this,” he said
He speculated with the current housing shortage, city planners were being pressured to approve more development.
Densification of a rural neighbourhood is a contravention of the Official Community Plan basic principal of sustainability, he said. It’s also unfair to the residents.
“We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said. “We have to protect the people that bought in good faith and not compromise their living space,”
At the same meeting council also voted down a zoning change for a development proposed for Copper Ridge.
Developer Patrick McLarnon wanted approval to put more residential units on the ground floor.
The current zoning only allows residential units on the second floor.
Allowing for ground-floor residential development would have increased the potential to market the units to seniors, said McLarnon.
When the proposal had a public hearing recently, there was a lot of opposition by neighbourhood residents.
City planners also recommended the proposed zoning change be defeated.
“There is no reason or justification provided in the report,” McLarnon told council. “I’m dumbfounded to how this decision was reached.”
The vote to defeat the zoning changes was unanimous.
The potential loss of commercial units was the reason that Roberts voted against the changes.
Because the property was recently bought by McLarnon with the zoning in place, changing the zoning so soon wouldn’t be proper, said Coun. Doug Graham.
“I don’t believe that obtaining a piece of land and then immediately trying to change the zoning is appropriate,” said Graham. “Had it been changed before the sale, a number of people would have been interested in it.”
With his zoning change defeated, McLarnon could still build a condo development. But the first floor has to be reserved for commercial units.
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