Council draws crowds for housing public hearing

Height of a house and a worry about invasive weed a factor in Terrace, B.C. rezoning debates

ZONING amendments and an application for a variance permit drew over ten concerned property owners to the city council meeting last night to voice their concerns about new developments.

On the bench the worry was that a proposed housing construction would block the view of neighbours, while down in south Terrace residents adjacent to a vacant lot proposed for multi-house development were concerned about flooding and invasive plant species being caused by a dense group of new houses on a single lot.

The rezone application for the 4849 Twedle residence on the bench would have seen an extra two feet added onto the allowable 30 foot allowable housing height.

Earlier this month the person building the house, Harinder Takhar, had amended his design plans to try to allay neighbours’ concerns by reducing the design from the original 39 he had planned to a negotiated 32 feet.

Takhar’s variance permit was unanimously voted down by council after they heard about how the two foot height increase would obstruct the view of the mountains and valley for neighbours, three of whom spoke their concerns to council last night.

At stake was a potential height war that would have seen neighbours applying for their own variance permits to raise their own houses to get a view.

Council debated whether the fact that Takhar had paid $200,000 for the parcel meant that he should be entitled a larger house. This notion was rejected by councillor Bruce Bidgood, and other council members decided to follow the original bylaw rule stipulating a maximum of 30 feet.

“I might have been more lenient if that one lot had not just recently been built on,” said councillor Stacey Tyers, referencing the concerns of one of the neighbours currently constructing his own house behind the development, and who had not had the chance to design a higher house himself.

“Two feet might not be a lot but when you look out your window it becomes a lot,” said Tyers.

Councillor Lynne Christiansen said that a variance permit ought generally to be allowed only if neighbours agree with the change, which they did not in this case.

The other housing item that brought out members of the public was a rezone to allow for multi-family units to be constructed at 2406 Kenney on the corner of Graham.

The rezone is to change the current zoning from R2 two-family residential to R3 low-density multi family residential, which would allow the developer, Kevin Kennedy, to build up to nine housing units on the lot.

According to the testimony of one neighbour, Barry English, a certain species of invasive plant called Japanese knotweed, among others, is infesting the now vacant lot and he wants the developer’s assurance that this would be dealt with. He also wondered about building new housing in a flood plain.

Director of development services David Block said that Kennedy plans to elevate the site by bringing in earth from elsewhere and that the development permit stage would require that he have proper drainage systems in place.

As for the invasive plants, Kennedy said he would handle this as he moved forward with the development of the site, and welcomed the education on this subject provided by English.