Kimberley City Council had a vigorous discussion this week regarding a development permit amendment, which the city’s planning department was recommending be denied.
The property in question is the development at 2501 Rotary Drive, which is being built out by Tyee Homes.
As described in a report to council, the proposed amendment would revise the development plan to replace three multi-family townhouse dwellings, consisting of a combined 16 dwelling units, with five duplex dwellings, consisting of ten dwelling units. The proposed duplexes would be two-story constructions, ranging from 1790 square feet to 2107 square feet.
Planning had concerns about reducing the number of dwelling units from 16 to ten, and that the increase in unit sizes would make them more costly. There is a need for smaller and more affordable units, the report said.
“Lastly, staff are concerned that approval of this application could provide a signal to the development community that projects proposing increased density are neither desirable nor economically viable, which may result in a significant reduction in possible density gains throughout Kimberley.”
According to the developer, Carl Lauren from Tyee, who attended the meeting via Zoom, townhouse are not selling as well as duplexes in the current market in Kimberley.
Coun. Darryl Oakley argued against refusing the permit amendment saying that there are townhouses to be built, including the Watkins School development, which will be quite dense. The Rotary Drive property, he added, was not in the community core.
“The economics of the project have been clearly stated by the developer,” he said.
Coun. Jason McBain agreed saying that the market dictates what a developer can do and that the city has to be adaptable.
Coun. Kent Goodwin said he was concerned that if the amendment was denied, nothing would be built.
Lauren said that his company does have direct knowledge of the market demand for town homes and they were currently more difficult to find buyers for than duplexes.
“Maybe townhouses will be crazy successful in 10, 20 years,” he said. “But we have buyers and shovel ready land for duplexes. In the current environment we think we could sell them all in the next six months. We could pre sell them by the end of the summer and build out by November 2022.”
Coun. Sandra Roberts said that Tyee had an excellent reputation as a builder.
“People are selling their houses and renting waiting for Carl’s builds,” she said. “If things change in two or three years, Carl can change. We just need to let him do his job.”
“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” Lauren said. We have helped change the face of construction in Kimberley. Any good developer has to have his finger on the pulse.”
Goodwin told Troy Pollock, Manager of Planning, that he understands his recommendation and that he was on the right track.
“I just don’t think council is going to go along this time. But there is a responsibility to make the community right for everyone.”
Council voted unanimously to approve the amended development permit.