City approves development variance permit in Forest Crowne

The proposed variance is for the construction of a car port

The location of the lot (City of Kimberley file).

The location of the lot (City of Kimberley file).

Kimberley City Council have approved a development variance permit in Forest Crowne, despite a recommendation to refuse the application.

The application, from home owner Len Steenson, is to allow for construction of a detached, open-sided carport that projects six metres into the property’s front yard setback. Under section seven of the the current City of Kimberley Zoning Bylaw, this type of specific construction is not permitted due to the location of the structure.

Forest Crowne also has a separate set of guidelines to follow, set by developers United Communities (UC), when it comes to the aesthetic and plans of any new construction.

A report to Council from City Planner Christopher Jones says that an application for the same proposed carport was first heard in November of 2016 at the Board of Variance Hearing. The Board, at that time, denied the variance application. Steenson also received a Stop Work Order for the construction of the carport at that time.

Neighbours were also issued notice of the application on November 14. As of November, 22, two responses were received, one for and one against.

“However,” reads the report, “the one in favour was admittedly not personally impacted by the variance as they are in a different phase of the subdivision.”

The report goes on to say that where the property exists in Forest Crowne results in a more “pie shaped than rectangular” lot. This makes the location of the carport in a front yard set back, rather than an external side yard setback as it would be defined on other corner properties.

The report also says Steenson indicated that the structure is required to protect both a boat and a recreational vehicle currently parked in said location.

“Under current policy, the applicant may erect a temporary canvas tent to shield vehicles from the elements between the months of October and April,” said the report. “The applicant indicated that a permanent carport akin to the style of the house would be more appropriate to the neighbourhood and not be fully enclosed as a tent-like structure would. It should be noted that it is the responsibility of the property owner to adhere to any architectural guidelines set out by the developer.

“Administration maintains that the variances are excessive and presents significant impact to the adjacent public space and neighbouring properties given the proposed carport’s size and permanency.”

At a regular City Council Meeting on Monday, Nov. 27, Council discussed the application before approving the variance.

Councillor Darryl Oakley says he is in support of the variance, especially after visiting the property twice.

“I feel that when this is built out it will not diminish value. It’s a far cry better sight than those portable structures people put up for the winter months,” said Oakley. “I also stood on the empty property across the road (which is a corner lot) to see if the view scape would be affected. I walked around a bit, and I just don’t see the issue in terms of diminished value for the neighbourhood.”

Councillor Bev Middlebrook says she agrees, “I don’t see a problem. It’s better than one of those tents, it’s a nicely done carport which – they’re all over the community. The way the house and lot are situated – it [the carport] is just in the place it has to go.”

Mayor Don McCormick mentioned “the concept of architectural guidelines”. He says that anyone who has purchased homes or lots in Forest Crowne did so understanding that there were architectural guidelines to follow. Only on the resale of those properties, says McCormick, have there been variances to UC’s guidelines, however UC has become fairly flexible since they first developed in 2001.

Oakley says that the angles of the structure and the materials used to build the carport would meet the Forest Crowne-specific guidelines and therefore adhere to the common theme.

Councillor Kent Goodwin says that the variance is “very big” and “the distances involved are quite large”. He says since the application has already been to the board of variance, and there is a neighbour not in favour of the construction, he can’t support the construction.

“We have development guidelines for a reason,” said Goodwin. “I’m not talking about Forest Crowne guidelines Im talking about City guidelines. If someone in the neighbourhood is not pleased with it I would tend to support that because that’s why we have those guidelines; so they know what to expect.”

The original recommendation from staff was to refuse the variance, however Mayor Don McCormick and Councillors Middlebrook, Oakley and Sandra Roberts voted against the recommendation. Therefore, a new motion was put forth to approve the variance, which won the vote, with Councillors Nigel Kitto, Albert Hoglund and Kent Goodwin opposed.