A full house gathers in council chambers at Salmon Arm City Hall on Monday evening, Feb. 25, about three-quarters of citizens there for the public hearing regarding a rezoning of the Hillcrest Mews development in the 2500 block of 10th Avenue SE. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Council votes against neighbours, for density in Hillcrest

Residents’ concerns included setbacks, density, steep slopes, tree removal, emergency access

In the end, density won the night.

Council chambers were packed on Monday evening, Feb. 25, three-quarters of those in attendance there because they were opposed to the proposed rezoning of a 2.53 acre (1.02 hectare) parcel at 2520-10th Ave. SE, west of Five Corners and east of Hillcrest Elementary.

The proposal from owner Hillcrest Mews Inc. was to change the zoning from R1, single family residential, to CD19, a comprehensive development zone specific to the property, to accommodate a 20- to 22-lot bareland strata. (Within a bareland strata there are privately owned lots that have a common access route and sometimes other common amenities, which the owners share and maintain through strata fees.)

The new zoning would allow 22 lots maximum, which would not fit with the minimum lot size required in R1. However, in the official community plan, the property is designated low density residential, which does permit a maximum of 22 lots.

Read more: Home building goes through the roof in Salmon Arm

City council voted unanimously (Coun. Chad Eliason was absent) to approve the rezoning, most citing the need to make the most of available land while keeping in line with the official community plan.

The applicants, Lawson Engineering & Development Services, represented by Alistair Waters and Blake Lawson, gave a presentation where they addressed concerns raised by neighbours – number 1 being density – noting they had walked the property with some of the residents the week previous.

Larson said the development had been referred to as ‘affordable’ housing but what was intended was ‘more affordable’ housing relative to location and construction. He said the homes are expected to sell for $399,00 to $499,000 less than the $600,000 to $700,000 price of other homes in the Hillcrest area.

Read more: 2012 – Hillcrest plan goes to ALC

Resident Paul Mundy, who lives on 24th Street SE, expressed appreciation for the developer’s willingness to meet with neighbouring property owners and pointed out residents are not opposed to development in general. However, he said those on 24th Street SE will be the most impacted and many questions remain unanswered.

Residents concerns voiced included density, reduction of setbacks – which will be reduced from 20 feet to 10 feet, steep slopes and possible slippage, tree removal, a wish for an independent geotechnical assessment, emergency access and parking. They noted that the property had just been rezoned to R1 in 2016 from A2, rural holding zone.

Read more: Suites for entire subdivision

Prior to voting, Coun. Louise Wallace said the density increase helps reduce sprawl and servicing costs.

“In my view Salmon Arm doesn’t have a space problem, but a use of space problem.”

Coun. Kevin Flynn said he has confidence in the processes governing the development such as those for geotechnical.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren suggested, based on current housing prices, the developer not use the term “more affordable” but instead, “less expensive.”

Mayor Alan Harrison acknowledged residents’ concerns but said this housing is ultimately the type the city wants.

“The people who are going to buy them I think are going to come and work in our manufacturing industry.”


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