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City to sell a strip of Second Ave to avoid encroaching garage
by Andrew Bennett on 26 Aug 2012
Council has started the process to sell a strip of city boulevard to the owner of 1958 Second Ave after what some on council call a "mistake" that led to the recent construction of an encroaching garage.
"Public representation" regarding this sale has been set for Sept. 4.
Two years ago, homeowner Matthew Titheridge received building permits to demolish a crumbling retaining wall on the south side of his property, facing onto Second Avenue, and to construct a garage in its place. The retaining wall had already encroached substantially onto city property and, although the plans for the new garage were back from where the retaining wall had been, the garage still encroached.
Staff wrote to council, "The garage's facade replaced a retaining wall and now protrudes 2.1 metres (7 feet) beyond the front property line, while its interior walls fully encroach into both interior lot line setbacks. The result is a 32.9 square metre (354 square foot) portion of city boulevard affected by an encroachment."
The encroachment puts the city in a difficult position. Staff wrote, "An encroachment agreement for a fully enclosed building is not feasible due to liability."
Consequently, the solution staff have proposed combines a development variance permit with a sale to Titheridge of the portion of city boulevard on which the garage encroaches—an area roughly 2.4 metres by 13 metres.
Before the development variance can be approved, however, the Community Charter requires the city to follow a prescribed process for the "disposal of city-owned lands." In this case, it begins with both a road closure bylaw and an advertised "public representation" prior to the sale of the land.
Council has clearly deliberated the problem and its solution in camera prior to bringing it to last week’s public meeting. When the motion was raised, Coun. Jill Spearn asked, "Is this the one we talked about in the last number of meetings?" to which Mayor Greg Granstom responded, "Yes."
Granstrom said, "We have to understand in this situation, it is what it is, and it has to be corrected one way or another."
Coun. Cary Fisher and Coun. Kathy Moore were not happy about the solution.
Fisher said, "Excuse me, he tore down a wall and built a garage, and now it's after the fact. There is a mistake. I'm not sure how far we go back with the mistake."
"Sure, we'll end up passing this tonight," he continued, "but these kind of mistakes can't happen. I don't see anything in here that says we won't let that happen again."
Fisher clarified his concern: "It's different when its a pre-existing structure that was built in 1935 and crosses someone's lot line or into city property. But this has just been done."
"So is it 'our bad' and this is how we fix it?" he asked.
Moore responded, "I think it is, and that's why I didn't want to go on record as either moving [the motion] or seconding it."
She said, "This is a mistake and the only way to fix it is to do this. It is a pretty offensive piece of business, but that's where we are."
Council passed the motion to pass the road closure bylaw—Bylaw 2537—and to set the date of public representation for the sale of the land for Sept. 4.