Terrace council refuses rezoning bid

Proposed subdivision raises questions about density

Following a public hearing April 23, Terrace’s city council turned down a request that could have led to a new subdivision up on the bench.

Despite the city’s official plan enabling such development, council wasn’t willing to pass a bylaw that could have led to an additional roughly $15,000 in tax revenue yearly for the divided lots, and more once houses were built.

The main reason was neighbours’ protests of the nine acre parcel at 5034 McConnell Ave., springing from a debate about density in an area with large acreages.

Skipping back to March 19, the city received an application to amend zoning from RR1, which is for rural residential uses, to R1, which is designated for one-family residential.

It was from Emil Wirtl, owner of Wirtl Construction and the property at 5034 McConnell Ave.

As the parcel was designated for neighbourhood residential in the city’s long-term community plan, the re-zone seemed appropriate, according to a city report. The recent installation of a sewer main along McConnell Ave. opened the possibility for developing the area. Proposed development plans included dividing the property into 16 to 20 lots proposed at 800 sq. metres, and extending Cory Drive north of McConnell Ave. and a temporary cul-de-sac.

Development could only have occurred on part of the lot, as the north part was subject to infilling happening first on other areas of the bench. After the bylaw passed its first two rounds, it went uto a public hearing after the community was notified.

Protests came from neighbours David and Marsha Cater of 5104 McConnell Ave.

In a letter to council, the Caters wrote, “We believe it is a ‘done deal’ with no consideration to current residents as the OCP (official community plan) has designated this area as a future R1 zone. As taxpayers and current residents, we believe we deserve some consideration because not all of our properties will be able to change from RR1 to R1.”

Ultimately, the Caters contested that when they purchased their home it was with the intent of living in a rural area and that high density zoning would change the look of the street considerably, that they’d be willing to compromise on Wirtl splitting the lot into two acre sized lots as permitted by current zoning, and that the re-zone ultimately be refused.

Wirtl’s neighbours, who own 5028, added their input: Wayne Kirby asked that the subdivision be done in a way that would allow for a subdivision on the north side of their lot in future, and Sandra Kirby protested that the integrity of the area’s appeal would be compromised without adequate planning to prevent it.

After the hearing, Terrace council debated passing the bylaw.

“Neighbours did buy with the intention of a rural area,” said councillor Stacey Tyers, and councillor James Cordeiro agreed.

“I will be going against this motion,” added mayor Dave Pernarowski, “and that’s a tough decision because it does fall within our (official community plan).” He noted that while development would bring in more money, he did not favour it due to neighbour opposition. City planner David Block contested the decision, but did not sway council’s final vote.