Council rezones property for duplex housing

After pushback from residents, council passes amended zoning bylaw for duplex housing at a property located at 1701 30th Ave.

A map depicting the area that council has rezoned from single-family dwelling units to two-family dwelling units. The north portion will include the new rezoning

A map depicting the area that council has rezoned from single-family dwelling units to two-family dwelling units. The north portion will include the new rezoning

City council voted to rezone a piece of property from single-family dwelling to allow for a two-family dwelling units, after getting an earful of opposition from residents in the neighbourhood.

The rezoning proposal of the 5.5-acre property, located at 1701 30th Ave. North, sparked a backlash at a February public hearing. At the time, the developer—Eagle Ridge Land Sales Corp—was applying for an R3 designation, which would enable the construction of tri-plex and quad-plex housing.

However, the developer submitted an amended proposal to change the zoning from the existing ‘Single Family Extended Residential Zone: R1’ to ‘Two-Family Residential Zone: RD,’  which limits any multi-family housing structures to only duplexes.

The property itself is divided by a southern portion and a northern portion, with an existing development at Eagleridge Crescent sandwiched in between.

The southern portion of the property will remain zoned at Single Family Extended Residential Zone: R1.

It wasn’t a unanimous decision; councillors Tom Shypitka and Wesly Graham were opposed to the rezoning change, while councillors Norma Blissett, Isaac Hockley, Ron Popoff Danielle Cardozo and Mayor Lee Pratt were in favour.

Issues that neighbouring residents brought forward to council included decreased property values, increased traffic and loss of privacy, as the northern portion of the property is on a slope overlooking homes on Kokanee and Kelowna Crescent.

According to the developer’s application, the lots will include off-street parking and saving as many as mature trees as possible on the property lines to maintain privacy.

Mayor Lee Pratt voiced his support for the rezoning, noting that development is part of what makes a community grow.

“The one thing that stands out to me is the complaint about the privacy and I bought here and I built here and I didn’t want anything developed around me…” Pratt said.

“Well, there’s all kinds of areas in town, where people bought and all of the sudden a new subdivision goes up around them. So if they wanted to live in the country, they should’ve bought in the country. Expansion and progress is part of what we’re trying to get Cranbrook to achieve.”

Tom Shypitka spoke out against the motion, saying that when the city-owned property was originally sold, the residents expected that it would be developed in R1 zoning.

“When we sold this property, it was sold as R1 and it was under my assumption as a councillor, that it was going to be developed as such,” said Shypitka. “…At the end of the day, when I walk down the street and somebody asks me, ‘Why did you do that?’ If I don’t have a good answer for them, I’m probably not doing my job.”

He clarified that the neighbouring residents weren’t against development, but wanted any development to be under the R1 designation.

Affordable housing, and the lack thereof in Cranbrook, was a central theme for the councillors who voted in favour of the bylaw.

“When you look at the housing market in Cranbrook right now and you look at these young families as first home-buyers trying to break into this market, it’s extremely hard for them,” said Hockley.

Added Cardozo: “I don’t know why individuals feel that this is going to dramatically their neighbourhood. There are individuals who are young and ambitious and who could very well be exactly what your neighbourhood needs to revitalize it.”

Blissett said that adding a mix of single-family and duplex dwellings together isn’t unreasonable.

“There are already some duplexes in the area and I think a mixture of single-family and duplexes is reasonable and especially, as long as they’re built to the same standards and they’re aesthetically pleasing, I really don’t see they’ll decrease the property values in the area,” Blissett said.

A city staff report recommended that council support the rezoning bylaw, noting that it is consistent with the Official Community Plan (OCP).

Prior to the council meeting, there was a public hearing on the issue, with three presentations from Tom Kennelly, Barry Bauer and Karen Churchill, the last of whom brought forward a petition of 20 signatures from neighbouring residents who opposed the bylaw.