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A packed Public Hearing, a contentious re-zoning

UPDATED:  Rossland City Council meetings, October 9, 2018

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, Aaron Cosbey, Andy Morel, Andrew Zwicker and John Greene. Present by phone: Marten Kruysse.

PUBLIC HEARING

On the bylaw to re-zone the land at 2812 Cedar Crescent from R1  (single-family residential) to CD-7 (Comprehensive Development, Evergreen Multiple Family), and P-2, Parks and Open Space; Moore explained that many people have provided input, and that the decision is not made on the basis of popularity, but on the merits of the application.

The City had received a several letters, several opposing and some supporting the development.  City Planner Stacey Lightbourne had prepared a written document which responded to each of the objections raised by letter-writers to the proposed development.

The proponent has consented to adjustments to the original draft of the by-law, to accommodate concerns expressed by residents objecting to aspects of the proposal; the amendments include expanding the area dedicated to parkland, agreeing to a larger set-back from lot lines adjacent to neighbouring homes, and specified screening of parking areas.

The Public Hearing was very well-attended.  Scores of residents came out, most – it seemed – to express strong opposition to re-zoning the land to accommodate the proposed cluster housing development of eighteen dwelling units off the end of Cedar Crescent.

Objections expressed included the idea that it would change the nature and integrity of the neighbourhood in such a way as to devalue property values in the area; that street access is difficult and traffic will increase; that snow clearing is difficult in the area, and snow removal trucks have been known to get stuck in Pinewood; that the sewer in the area gives off a bad smell already; that transportation will be a problem for everyone.  Many people stated that the development is not a “walkable” distance to downtown; and one was concerned that the additional 18 proposed dwelling units will generate additional parking problems in the downtown core.

Others cited the failure of the previous owner to fulfill his development promises, and asked what the effect on the neighbourhood would be if the current proponent also fails to complete the project.  A few thought it was the right idea in the wrong place, or at the wrong time; several people thought the project was contrary to the Official Community Plan, and that all such cluster development should be located closer to the City’s core, instead of being on the periphery of the settled area.

Another opponent stated that “green” building as intended is expensive, so the plan is more likely to fail.  Another worried about the difficulty of evacuation in the increasingly likely event of wildfire – but the staff recommendation would require that an alternative access be built to connect the development to Happy Valley Road for just such emergencies.

Another resident suggested that the zoning decision should not be made by this Council, but did not explain why. Others suggested that the decision should be deferred, more time should be taken, and perhaps a Charrette should be held to “work out the details.”

A young resident asked, “What’s in it for us?  How does it benefit our home?”

Just before adjourning the Public Hearing, Moore noted that the OCP does not forbid cluster or multi-family development in other locations than those already zoned for it, so the proposal is not actually contrary to the OCP.  

  

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING (immediately after the Public Hearing)

Just before the meeting, Moore explained that the question on the sewer issue to be voted upon in the upcoming civic election is a “small administrative detail” and people should please vote in favour of it; it will probably save the City a bit of money. 

She also explained the City’s new “Community Contributor” award, and spoke glowingly of the Rossland Council for Arts & Culture and all it has done for the City with a volunteer board, and announced that the award this year will go to Renate Fleming and Ann Damude jointly, in honour of the long list of RCAC’s accomplishments.

Moore confessed to having practiced a small deception to ensure that Fleming was present to receive the award, and then presented it to her; Damude was out of town. Applause ensued.

Public Input Period:

Lisa Henderson spoke about the new clauses in the agreement for the Gold Fever Follies; she would like it changed so that instead of paying $1000 plus 5% of the door, she suggests that the Follies pay the $1000 plus 100% of the Follies’ profits up to $1500, and that any profits over that would remain the property of the Follies.  Henderson recounted some of the Follies’ history, when they have gone into the red and had to be saved by substantial injections of personal money from her and deferral of pay for Follies artists.

Council Business:

Council moved up the 2812 Cedar Crescent re-zoning application, and dealt with it.

Cosbey thanked all the people who had come out to speak, and noted that the proponent had done a number of things to address concerns, which he listed as being positive and in favour of the proposal.  He stated that the previous developer’s legacy is not relevant; nor is the cost of the construction or the cost of the units to sell; he commented that the idea that  higher-density development will change the neighbourhood for the worse – he said that such developments go on all the time, and whether it might affect property values is also not relevant.  He opposed any suggestion that the decision should be deferred to another Council, after this Council has gone through all the material in detail.  He acknowledged that the OCP is relevant; he stated that he really likes the development.  But he says he hasn’t yet seen enough to approve cluster housing on the periphery of town, so he plans to vote against it.

Greene asked about the alternate fire route that would be included.

Zwicker said he really likes the idea, but is stuck on the idea of the cluster development on the outskirts of town, and would vote against it.

Kruysse apologized for not being there in person, and thanked residents for showing up, and acknowledged the issues of sightlines, and construction traffic on Cedar Crescent, which he characterized as a substandard road.  Then he spoke to the “offsets” to these concerns:  a minimal number of units for the area, and the addition of the greenspace to the neighbourhood.  He doesn’t consider it high-density, just medium-density; there will be  minimal impacts of residential traffic, the planned emergency next through Happy Valley will benefit all residents, and the existing sewer problems will be resolved.  He has come to conclusion that the proposal is sensible, promises to be high-quality, and will have less impacts on the neighbours than many potential other future developments.  He would like to see further discussions on sightlines and design.

McLellan said this was the “most active public hearing” he has seen, and he’s inclined to approve the proposal.  He thinks most of the valid concerns have been addressed.  He thinks it’s a difficult thing for this Council, but said it’s imperative that this Council make the decision. He favours the re-zoning.

Morel agreed with Cosbey. He thinks this is too far away from the community core.

City Planner Stacey Lightbourne commented that more factors of this development favour its approval than go against it.

Kruysse commented that he doesn’t have a problem with what the final development should look like; it’s typical of a controversial  development, and he thinks residents have a right to more input into final design.

Lightbourne listed the steps in a development process – first, the zoning, then a development permit, and when an applicant seeks a development permit, Council can impose further conditions.

McLellan stated that he thinks Council has done its job with the public hearing, and that the concerns raised have been addressed. 

Morel asked if the suggested Charrette would be a good process for this issue.  Lightbourne said she thought the permit stage would be the time to address those issues.  Green then decided  to support the re-zoning.

The motion to amending Bylaw #2679, re-zoning the property at 2812 Cedar Avenue from R-1 to CD-7 and P-1 (see above),  to increase the set-backs from property lines shared with R-1 neighbours, and to add screening of parking areas,CARRIED with Greene, Moore, McLellan and Kruysse in favour, and Zwicker, Morel and Cosbey opposed.

A further motion to give the by-law third reading, on condition that the area of parkland be increased as specified,  alternate fire access to Happy Valley Road is provided, required trail links are built (including a link to downtown via the Columbia Avenue right-of-way), and that the proponent work with the City and the Ministry of Transport to ensure that road upgrades are made to comply with the traffic impact study before the units are built, and ensure that other up-grades are made as required by the City’s engineer, CARRIED unanimously; as did a third motion to adopt the by-law.

Gold Fever Follies Agreement [CORRECTION]

Cosbey moved that the Follies contract be based on a $1000 base rate, plus 5% of the profits. [Originally, erroneously reported as 5% of ticket sales]

Morel commented that he thinks the viability of the Follies is at risk “if we go after more.” He recognizes that the City compromises its own revenue by giving the  Follies a reduced  rate. 

McLellan declared that he would vote against it, because he thinks the City should share in profits.

Council wrestled with the fact that the City could make considerably more money by renting out the Miners Hall for special occasions during the summer.

The motion CARRIED.

Recommendations from Staff for Council Decision:

1.        Development Permit for an addition to Red Mountain Lodge:  the proposed addition will enable Red to remove (as promised) temporary modular units that currently house a day care, lockers for the Ski Patrol and Ski School, storage facilities, and various other functions.  A motion to allow the permit, with the usual conditions imposed, CARRIED unanimously.

2.       A motion that Council award the Heritage Management Plan contract to Denise Cook and Associates in the amount of $29,680 (excluding GST)  CARRIED unanimously.  It was not the lowest bid, but Cook’s experience won out. This plan is funded predominantly by a grant from Columbia Basin Trust.

3.       A motion to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society for the proposed mixed-use development of the Midtown Transition Lands CARRIED unanimously, after some discussion and clarification of the matters that are yet to be determined.  

Policy Review:

Motions to reconfirm the By-law Enforcement Policy, the Tangible Capital Asset Policy, theInformation Technology Acceptable Use Policy, and the Emergency Operations Centre Activation Wage Reimbursement Policy all CARRIED unanimously.

A motion to confirm the Council Committee System Policy  as amended to clarify that “advisory groups” include Task Forces, and that no advisory group is entitled to publish information for or on behalf of the City unless specifically authorized to do so, CARRIED unanimously.

A motion to confirm the Reserve and Surplus Policy, as amended to add reserve funds for Regional Sewer Utility and Climate Action, CARRIED unanimously.

A motion to confirm the Roads, Sidewalk, Stair Snow Removal Policy  as amended to clarify the responsibilities of  residents, and potential penalties for depositing snow onto previously cleared public rights-of-way,  CARRIED unanimously – with a friendly amendment to clarify that plowed snow across residential driveways will not be removed by the City.  

A motion to approve a NEW Community Contributor Award Policy CARRIED unanimously.

A motion to approve a NEW Christmas Gift Certificates for City Employees Policy, to provide for $50 gift certificates for employees, FAILED unanimously because it would also have deprived ten retirees of a gift certificate that they have been receiving in the past.  A motion that the staff recommendation be accepted with the exception that the ten “grandfathered” retirees should get their accustomed amount of gift certificate as well CARRIED unanimously.

BY-LAWS:

(The Cedar Crescent re-zoning by-law was adopted earlier in the meeting.  See above.)

Permissive Tax Exemptions:

A motion to adopt the 2019 – 2021 Permissive Tax Exemption By-law CARRIED unanimously.

Revitalization Tax Exemptions:

A motion to adopt the 2019 – 2023 Revitalization Tax Exemption By-law CARRIED unanimously.

Staff Updates and Reports: Council examined and expressed appreciation for the reports --

Task List

Public Works

Water Production

Corporate Management Work Plan, Q3 Report

Request from Rossland Mountain Film Festival to waive the extra “heavy user fee” for them; Cosbey moved that the City waive the fee for one year only, and that they have to pay it in subsequent years.  The motion CARRIED, with Morel and McLellan opposed.

Members’ Reports:

McLellan reported on expenditures approved at the RDKB board meeting.

Cosbey reported that he was at the 48th IPCC meeting in Incheon, South Korea (near Seoul) for his day job (not for the City), and the outlook for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is grim.

Morel noted that a Library board meeting coming up tomorrow, also the Beer & Ballots event.

Greene is impressed with the Design Review Panel and how its clients benefit. 

Zwicker had attended Sustainability Commission and Energy Task Force meetings.  He commented that after four years, he’s still happy to be working with all the other Councillors, and hopes that will hold true for the next council as well.

Moore  reported that the Museum is continuing with its mine experience project;  she attended the tea at the Seniors Centre; attended the all-candidates forum and was encouraged by the quality of the candidates;  she noted that tomorrow (October 10) is first advance voting for civic elections, and will aso feature the Beer & Ballots event at the Prestige. 

Council adjourned the meeting, and your reporter sauntered home in the dark, feeling exhausted yet over-stimulated – possibly because of having eaten too much chocolate during the meeting – and saw no bears, and managed to avoid stepping in the slippery remains of an older bear poop near the top of the LeRoi hill sidewalk.