Variances for the lot at 4641 Graham Ave, dotted boundary, will allow for a subdivision application, creating an agricultural-only lot to the south of the potential development site.

Variance permits brings developer closer to 45-home subdivision

Variances clear path to subdivision application, but project green-light still a long way off

A property owner hoping to build a 45-home subdivision on the southern edge of Terrace is one step closer to filing an official development application.

Terrace city council has issued a permit on three variances vital for the subdivision to move forward. They relate to the 2.6 hectare property at 4641 Graham Avenue, a long, thin lot that shares its eastern boundary with the Terrace Trailer Court. In 2016 council approved the northern 1.6 hectare section of the lot to be rezoned from agricultural use to low-density multi-family residential. The lot’s owner, Rod Pelletier, is now asking to have the remaining one hectare on the southern end, protected under the Agricultural Land Reserve, subdivided away from the proposed development property.

Council was told Pelletier, who could not be reached for comment before press time, needs the property detached from its multi-zone use with the ALR in order to get financing for the multi-million-dollar development.

For that to happen, council first needed to approve three variances, which include the requirement for agricultural land to be served by a municipal water supply, and that the sole dwelling be at least 100 metres from a fire hydrant. Because the newly subdivided lot would lie 310 metres away from the nearest community water supply, council was satisfied with Pelletier’s plan to build a ground well and furnish the dwelling with a sprinkler system.

The third variance requested the minimum-size parcel for a new lot be allowed to drop from eight hectares to one hectare.

By approving the variances council did not give the developer a green light on subdividing the lot, but merely paved the way for him to apply.

“We have to get these variances in before we approve the subdivision,” the city’s senior planner, Ken Newman, said during a committee of the whole meeting prior to council’s vote. “It’s a chicken and egg scenario. So you can approve the variances tonight…and he can sign the development variance permit if he agrees to it, but we won’t register the development variance permits until the new parcel is created, because it only applies to the new parcel, which doesn’t exist yet.”

The project calls for approximately 45 homes, down from the original 52 proposed last year, in a safe, clean and inviting strata development for couples and singles over the age of 55.

The project has faced opposition from neighbouring property owners since it began inching through the permitting process last year.

April Knight and Larry Gagnon, who own the lot west of the proposed development, voiced concern to council, alongside other residents, in 2016 over increased traffic along Graham Ave. and the loss of valuable agriculture land. The two now returned to council upset with the addition of two-story homes to the development plan. They urged council to deny Pelletier’s variances, noting other properties for sale are already zoned for this type of development.

“We purchased [our] home in 2012 and were happy that the properties on either side of us had only one home and the rest of the land was agriculture,” they wrote in a letter presented to council. “…Our property is right beside Rod’s and the original time frame was four years…of construction, as they are built as people purchase, I think [it’s] a little much for any neighbor to deal with.”

Council sat quietly considering their votes before finally approving the variances with the acknowledgment that the concerns of Knight, Gagnon and other neighbours will require attention in the future.

“I’m alright with the recommendation, but looking at the letter from April and Larry, there will need to be a piece addressed later on, in terms of the length and scope of the development, that we can’t address specifically now within the recommendations of the variance,” councillor Michael Prevost said. “That’s something that will come up with the development application.”

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