Developers sent back to consult neighbours

Two Salmon Arm developers will be getting to know their neighbours better.

Explanation: Architect Bernd Hermanski addresses city council during a re-zoning hearing.

Explanation: Architect Bernd Hermanski addresses city council during a re-zoning hearing.

Two Salmon Arm developers will be getting to know their neighbours better.

A motion to rezone a property at 1151 8 Ave. NE from Single Family Residential Zone to Medium Density Residential was postponed until another hearing in September.

The decision was based on a dozen protest letters and a 50-signature petition from neighbouring property owners protesting the possible development of a seven-unit strata complex on the property. It is two-thirds of an acre and has a residence on site.

Architect Bernd Hermanski and contractor Ian McDiarmid were advised to hear the neighbours’ concerns and explain their proposal in person.

The petition simply stated that the signatories opposed the bylaw amendment.

The letters, some of them long and detailed, expressed several concerns.

Chief among them were increased traffic and, changes the strata development would make to the character of the primarily single-family neighbourhood and a possible detrimental effect on current properties.

Some residents complained they were not informed about the strata development.

Applying as agent on behalf of the owner Flemming Jorgensen, Hermanski apologized to council and the gallery, noting that on other projects he has held public meetings but did not think there would be such opposition to this strata development.

Out of town on a family matter, Hermanski said he had arrived home that afternoon to an unexpected volume of letters along with the petition.

“I don’t know if we can rectify that by explaining it, or holding a public meeting at some other venue, or if you don’t mind, I could take a bit longer and explain more of what we’re doing,” he said.

Chief administrative officer Carl Bannister agreed the public hearing could be delayed in order to allow Hermanski to address council and the gallery.

“This came from the idea that this whole area near the hospital has been designated high density residential in the OCP,” he said. “We want to densify the urban core to allow people access to amenities.”

Hermanski pointed out that according to the OCP, up to 10 units would be acceptable.

“Much less than six gets to be very expensive, which goes against another goal, which is to provide affordable housing,” he said, explaining people are looking for homes in the $350,000 range. “My feeling is that six units on two-thirds of an acre is not very high density.”

Hermanski also addressed traffic and infrastructure costs and said the strata units have not yet been designed.

“I think I heard that people need the opportunity to have more information.” said Coun. Alan Harrison. “After the developer and the community get together, the project might look different. I am not a person who likes to delay things, but I think if we do this tonight, it will be a win-lose or lose-win and I think we can do better.”

Harrison’s motion to adjourn the hearing until Sept. 12 was seconded by Louise Wallace Richmond, who said she has a, “great faith in the power of the neighbourhood and the adjournment should be the beginning of the conversation not the end of it.”

Some of the letters suggested to Coun. Kevin Flynn that  there is a lot of misunderstanding among the residents about an OCP and that there would now be a chance for council, staff and developer to help them understand.