Friday, August 21, 2009

Size matters on Graham Avenue

A zoning proposition is proving to be a rather contentious item over on the west side of the city, as a number of Graham Avenue and Atlin Avenue residents expressed their concerns over the plans to subdivide lots in the area.

The discussion came to Prince Rupert City Council chambers on Monday as councillors heard from concerned citizens on the issue, with both those for the changes and those against them offering their opinions to council.

The Daily News outlined some of the background on the neighbourhood division in the Wednesday paper.

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Pages two and five

It's a question of what size is the right size for all.

Monday night's public hearing over the City of Prince Rupert Zoning Bylaw update attracted a larger number of residents than any other issue has over the last five months.

A delegation of residents from Graham and Atlin Avenues was there to let council know they had concerns over the minimum lot size of 25 feet by 100 feet, specified in the new zoning bylaw's final draft.

"This minimum lot size is a critical issue not only to those of us living on Graham and Atlin Avenue, but to others living in other residential areas in Prince Rupert," said Graham Avenue resident Brian Denton.

He also said the group's wishes are based on a desire to ensure that their area of the city remains a low density, quiet and pleasant area in which they can continue to enjoy existing privacy, beautiful views and other amenities.

Denton was reading from a 22-page written presentation and joined at the table by his wife Penny, neighbours Bob and Judy Warren and Erwin Porcher.

One of the main points of contention in the presentation was a proposal made in January 2008 by Colin Flaten of 2130 Graham Avenue to subdivide his lot into two 50 by 100 foot lots so he could build a one story home on the upper portion.

"We object to the proposed construction of a second house on the above mentioned lot because it could be precedent-setting for other home owners of Graham Avenue to do similar projects, altering the quality of life and ambiance of the area," Denton explained.

Councillor Joy Thorkelson asked Denton after the presentation if he required that lots be 50 by 100 or was it a no-subdivision issue.

Turning to city planner Zeno Krekic, Thorkelson asked, "Is it possible to make an area in the city where there are no subdivisions?" Krekic said it wasn't possible to make it a no subdivision zone, but setting the minimum lots size of 50 by 100 was an option.

In a second written statement, issued Tuesday morning, Denton said adopting the zoning bylaw on the basis that the problem with the minimum lot size in the zoning bylaw is limited to only one specific property on Graham Avenue is to then have missed the full scope of his presentation on Monday night.

"Is the minimum lot size specified in the new zoning bylaw within the interests of the residents of our community or is it simply there because of the direction larger cities in the world have had to go with their population explosions?" Denton asked.

He also expressed the group's frustration with what he described as the "bureaucratic system".

"That fact that a number of us have now waited for 19 months, with the clock still ticking, without receiving a definitive answer from the City as to whether or not our neighbour will or will not be permitted to subdivide their property, is as much to show how our "system" is working as it is in complaint of the matter."

Denton said he wanted to show how futile it is at times when the public takes the time to provide input into planning processes. He felt that those involved with the drafting of the new zoning bylaw had no intentions of changing their course with the minimum lot size regardless of the input they received and that the new specifications were not in conformance with the city's Quality of Life Community Plan.

After Denton's presentation, two Graham Avenue residents offered a differing point of view, Ross McNish said his BO by 200 foot lot is huge and someone might want to build on his lot some day. When asked by Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne if the new zoning bylaw would suit his needs McNish said, "Obviously it doesn't bother me because it doesn't restrict me."

Colin Flaten, owner of the disputed neighbouring lot, said he felt his intentions have been extremely distorted.

He and his wife have a large home and would like to downsize by building a one-story home on the upper portion of their lot, not a two-storey as indicated by the petitioners.

Back in 2008, Flaten said he approached his neighbour, Judy Warren, and told her he was thinking of subdividing.

"My property has a lot of trees and if I was going to build something I would have to take the trees down to have a view," Flaten explained.

A week later, Flaten left for a vacation to Hawaii and returned to find that the word on the street implied that he planned to build a two-story home and wipe out the view.

Local residents had gathered 135 names on a petition to protest Flaten's subdivision plan and had taken the petition to City Hall.

Thorkelson asked Flaten on Monday if he thought that area of town should have bigger lot sizes and asked "What would you-want for ' that part of town?"

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