Friday, November 18, 2016

Council delays decision on zoning request for Skyline Manor area pending further information

Council discussed zoning
issues related to a property
on Summit Avenue on Monday
A request to return zoning of an area near the Prince Rupert Hospital back to a previous density level was tabled on Monday evening, with City Council members looking to arrange for a presentation from the owners of the Skyline Manor to learn more about their request and how the current zoning limitations have impacted on their plans.

The Monday evening discussion on the consideration of the roll back of the density levels began with an overview from the City's Planner Zeno Krekic who provided some background to the history of the zoning of the property and how the request to return to previous density permissions, as applied for by the current owners contradicts the new zoning bylaw process.

He outlined the process that the City had used to achieve the new bylaw density levels, with public information sessions and feedback from the public at the time, and which was supported by Council.

During the course of his presentation on the theme, the City Planner also observed that the site of the property in question had technical challenges and lacked parking that would be required for any build out.

The recommendation from the planning department heading into the discussion was that Council should deny the application to change the zoning.

When it came to that discussion Councillor Niesh took the lead for the most part seeking clarification on city policies and inquiring as to what expansion the proponents might have in mind for the property in question.

Mr. Niesh raised questions related to the amount of notice that the building owners had been provided regarding the change to the zoning, while acknowledging that the question of density related to this site was one that was more than what the City has been dealing with in recent times.

He also noted that the property is owned by local residents who have held onto the property in good times and bad and that this may be their retirement, returning to his theme of property rights and the lack of proper notice by the city of the change to the zoning that he believed was part of the issue under discussion.

"This was a property that was zoned, when these people purchased it, they were not contacted and in my eyes, if you are going to take something away from someone, you just can't put an ad in the paper you should actually have to contact them"

Beyond the nature of consultation on the issue, Councillor Niesh also asked the city planner how many extra units the zoning change might provide for.

Mr. Krekic first responded to the topic of proper notice, advising that with the Official Community Plan in place the City doesn't advise every property owner of changes, which is why the city goes through the extensive consultation process that it has in place.

As for the extra units that could be added to the site, Mr. Krekic observed that the current building is host to 36 units, Mr. Krekic estimated that any expansion could provide for up to 75 units.

He also made note of the various city services such as water, sewer, roads and parking that would be required, adding that he believed parking would prove to be a problem if the owners were to add more units.

Councillor Wade Niesh had a number of
questions Monday night for the City planner
related to zoning of a property on Summit Avenue 

The remaining members of Council would also offer up some thoughts on the issue, with Councillor Randhawa expressing his concerns over the nature of the way the City has informed the owners of the zoning changes and suggesting that the owners be invited to council to discuss the subject with Council.

For his part Councillor Kinney, picked up on the theme of further engagement with the property owners, putting forward the motion to table the consideration of the zoning issue until the building owners had an opportunity to appear in front of Council.

Councillor Mirau  and Mayor Brain both expressed similar themes on the the need to get more information on the request from the proponents, though Mayor Brain did offer up some cautionary thoughts on the larger issues of how the city approaches zoning changes.

"I understand the points that Councillor Niesh is making, but unfortunately the OCP gets updated in every community, and its the same process. The fact that the owners did not know that their property had been rezoned honestly is beyond me, but I can't speak past 2009, or 2008 or whenever that happened. Unfortunately if everyone used that argument we would be rezoning things back to 1940 right, so the point is you move forward as a community."

The Mayor also highlighted some of his concerns over the potential density options and how the decisions that Council makes  are decisions that affect the community thirty years from now.

Councillor Thorkelson, provided some historical perspective to the theme,  recalling her time on Council during the revisions to the bylaw and zoning process, noting that she believed that it had been debated well and thoroughly during that period within the community, with the public properly informed of the issues during that consultation period.

However, she also concurred with the sentiment to invite the owners to Council chambers to outline what plans they would have for the property in question.

Councillor Barry Cunningham was not part of the discussion, as he had excused himself from the Council chambers prior to Council's consideration of the zoning issue.

With the remaining Council members in agreement, they then voted to defer their decision related to the request, and to approach the building owners to appear at Council to outline the impact of the new bylaw process on their plans.

The report from the City Planner can be found on page 11 of the Agenda Page for the November 14th Monday Council session.

You can review the full discussion on the topic from the City's Video Archive page, starting at the one minute mark.

How the City approaches the issue of rolling back a zoning change will make for some interesting discussion with the proponents, particularly in the current atmosphere of this City Council's desire to see more housing stock created in the community as soon as possible.

With 2016 almost at its end, there has been little movement to be found in the construction of housing units from the string of approvals that City council has granted over the last two years.

While the Report to council outlined some concerns related towards any further development of that location, Council members might find some cause to revisit their position on the density issue for the Skyline owners once they hear their presentation on both the issue of past notification as well as any future plans for the site.

Particularly if the property owners were able to reassure the city that any expansion was first feasible and were also able to offer up a dedicated timeline that promises for a quick progress when it comes to the creation of more housing units in the community.

You can find more items of note related to Housing from our archive page here.

Further background on City Council discussions is available on our Council Discussion page.

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