New duplex to be built on St. Paul Street
Council recently rezoned 2720 St. Paul Street to “R-2S two family detached residential small lot” from “R-1I infill residential,” allowing developer Kevin Fairweather of K2 Contracting Ltd to proceed with his plans to build a duplex on the 323 square metre (3477 square foot) lot.
The adjacent property, 2732 St. Paul, was recently purchased by K2, the house was renovated, and the lot was subdivided into two lots. Rossland’s current zoning bylaws allows duplexes in the infill zone to proceed without a zoning amendment on lots larger than 557 square metres (6000 square feet), but small lots require a public hearing and specific council approval.
The city did receive a complaint from Grace and Steve Naas who wrote, “We are vehemently opposed … These infill duplexes are changing the look and feel and quality of our neighbourhoods. A single family dwelling would have been so much better … Rossland is no longer the place we want to live.”
The Naas’s added specific concerns: “Where will they park? … At the very least parking should have to be accommodated on the property for all of the applications.”
City staff provided answers to these questions in a memo to council.
City staff had no concerns with parking, pointing out that each duplex unit requires two on-site parking stalls, for a total of four parking spaces. Staff wrote, “There is more than enough space to provide parking on site.”
Staff added, “Two more residential dwellings, will not generate an increase in traffic substantial enough to disrupt the flow on local roads.” In addition, the roof will be designed to hold snow, the driveway will be 100 per cent permeable with drainage addressed on site, and each unit will require 17 cubic metres (600 cubic feet) of storage space—34 cubic metres total.
Regarding form and character, staff note that “zoning regulations for a duplex (height, setbacks, building parcel coverage) are very similar to a single family dwelling to ensure a good character “fit” within an existing neighbourhood. All multiple family dwellings (including duplexes) are in a Development Permit Area for form and character, so the design of the homes will be reviewed by the Design Review Committee prior to building permit issuance.”
The Naas’s also asked, “Are these duplexes going to front on a single lane?”
Staff replied, “The Public Works Manager has requested that all parking for the site is required to be accessed from the laneway in order to provide snow storage on St Paul St. He is aware that the laneway is marked as a one way (East-West) but has stated that the lower part of the lane is wide enough to support two-way traffic from the duplex.”
The Naas’s had another complaint, less about the duplex, but more about procedure. They said, “These public hearings are, in my opinion, a joke and a waste of time. The OCP [Official Community Plan] dictates that they will not be turned down, so what is the point?”
Indeed, the Naas’s were not present at the public hearing, but Rosslander David Butler was there to speak in favour of the development, echoing staff comments that infill development is energy efficient, affordable, and reduces sprawl and associated environmental impacts.
Butler told council on Monday evening, “We’ve had [infill] on OCPs dating back, to my knowledge, 1980. We in Rossland prefer to go with infill rather than develop … the fringes … and cause the city to extend its services—snow plowing, water, sewage.”
“I consider this a prime example of a really good piece of property [for infill],” he continued, noting the walking-distance proximity to city services and public transportation. “It’s got everything going for it.”
Butler said this development would be “attractive” and “serves a purpose.” He said, “I think it’s a very positive way to go.”
Fairweather also spoke to council, apprising them of the market forces driving this and similar developments in a town in which some 85 per cent of houses are single family residences.
When Fairweather finished a similar duplex on St. Paul last year, the open house was attended by “several hundred people,” he said, of which five parties were interested, three very much so, and an offer was accepted by the end of the night.
“There is a demand,” Fairweather said, due to the lower taxes, lower maintenance, lower bills, lower insurance fees, and his ten year warranty. “It’s very attractive for people who want to downsize and stay in the community, as opposed to moving to [another community].”
Fairweather said his latest duplex buyers were “not able to maintain any size of property” due to health concerns. “Zero footprint is exactly what they were looking for,” he said.
Fairweather also complained that rezoning was required for small lot duplexes in the infill zone when, he said, there are no large lots (greater than 6000 square feet) available in the area for duplex development.
Council did not deliberate the zoning change for long, quickly reaching unanimous agreement.
Coun. Jill Spearn said the letter in opposition was “fair enough,” but said, “people are actually lining up, interested in this sort of housing in our community.” She disagreed that it would not suit the form of the neighbourhood saying the “modern, efficient” look would be “really great for our community.”
Coun. Tim Thatcher said he was “torn” by the request. “I had problems with the parking issues” at the odd intersection, he said. He was convinced after consulting with staff about where the parking is going, however, that “it makes sense.”
Coun. Jody Blomme chose to respond directly to the Naas’s complaint that there was no point in attending a public hearing because the OCP “dictates” that rezonings such as this will be approved.
“The fact that it’s supported by OCP doesn’t mean it’s going to pass through,” Blomme explained. “If I did hear a specific reason why it shouldn’t happen … then I would vote against something like this.” She said it’s “not a futile effort” to attend the public hearings because “each situation is individual.”
In this case, Blomme felt there was “no real technical basis” to deny the request.
Mayor Greg Granstrom addressed Fairweather’s desire that “he would like [small lot duplexes] enshrined in the bylaw,” and said it’s exactly because of concerns like those raised by the Naas’s. The mayor said, “The community would like to reserve the right [to deny requests]. The neighbourhood should have a say. If they see something they don’t like, they should take steps accordingly.”