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City of Powell River to consider rezoning for 60-unit strata

Developer wants to hasten permit processing times
LARGE PROPERTY: A local developer who had a five-acre property on Manson Avenue rezoned last year for small single-family lots wants to rezone again to accommodate a 60-unit townhouse development, but is frustrated with the time it is taking to process his applications.

City of Powell River Council will consider giving first reading to a zoning amendment bylaw to allow for a 60-unit strata-titled development on Manson Avenue.

At the May 2 city council meeting, director of planning services Jason Gow said he was presenting an application to amend the zoning of a property located at 5201 Manson Avenue.

“It is a large property, measuring 2.15 hectares, or about 5.3 acres, and currently houses one single detached residential dwelling unit,” said Gow. “Council may remember this particular property as it was the subject of a rezoning application not too long ago. In February of last year, the property was successfully rezoned from the A1 small lot rural residential zone to the CD4 residential small lot zone.

“The majority of trees have been removed from the property. The owner did apply for and receive a tree cutting permit in March 2023. It’s ready for development.”

Gow said the owner has now applied to rezone the bulk of the property from CD4 to RM1 to permit a stratified multi-family townhouse development. Also submitted was a two-lot subdivision application at the same time. The first lot proposed will house the existing single detached dwelling and that property would retain the current CD4 zoning. The second lot, the remaining property, is what the applicant has applied to rezone to RM1, according to Gow.

“The focus of this application is that second larger lot, and not the lot that the existing single detached dwelling would be housed on,” said Gow. “If the rezoning application is successful, the applicant is proposing to build a townhouse development. As mentioned, the development would be stratified, meaning internal roads and servicing infrastructure would be owned and operated by the strata and not the city. This would make the development more financially sustainable over time compared to a single detached housing development where the city owns the roads and servicing infrastructure and is responsible to maintain it in perpetuity,”

Gow said as for the housing type proposed, multi-family units are needed in the community and townhouse development would help facilitate the findings of the city’s housing needs report and housing implementation plan.

“The density proposed is in keeping with the RM1 zone and staff is supportive of the rezoning application,” said Gow. “Staff recommend that council direct staff to issue notice of council’s intention to consider first reading of the draft amendment bylaw at a future meeting of council. Staff also recommend five subject conditions that the applicant be required to meet prior to council being asked to consider adoption of the draft bylaw.”

Council unanimously supported recommendations that the zoning amendment bylaw was consistent with the official community plan bylaw, and that holding a public hearing is prohibited under new provincial law.

Councillors then considered a third recommendation to consider first reading of the amendment bylaw at a future meeting of council with five conditions for the developer.

Councillor Trina Isakson indicated that when the initial rezoning came before council last year to create CD4 single-family residential zoning, there were comments by councillors expressing a desire for greater density.

“I was quite excited to see this and I support this motion,” said Isakson.

The motion carried unanimously.

Ticking clock

During question period, developer Alan Rebane said the development permit for the land is in city hall and has been paid. Rebane said he has spoken with Gow, who has been accommodating. Rebane said he submitted the development permit in March and submitted the subdivision application on January 2, and now it is being considered in May.

“I’m quite concerned with the length of time that it took to get here,” said Rebane. “My first question is: can council see any reason why the development permitting cannot simultaneously go through with the rezoning? I understand you defer to staff, but I’m asking council to give them direction.

“My second question is: how can you assure that I can move forward the fastest way possible under the circumstances I’m in? I’ve been with the staff since January and I feel like it’s not moving along.”

Mayor Ron Woznow said it is his position that council refer to staff to provide that.

Rebane said he had borrowed a great deal of money to get to this stage. He said before he puts a shovel in the ground the tally will be more than $1 million. He said council wants affordable housing but the interest on that money accumulates and he has to pass that along to the homebuyers.

“It’s really important, and I’m trying to express to council and the planning department that the clock is ticking,” said Rebane. “It is for council to direct staff, not staff to say it has all these issues. I understand they are very busy but this particular development is what we talked about two years ago. I thought this was easy to move forward in 60 days. I’m now into my fifth month.”

Gow said he has committed to bringing the development permit application to council as quickly as he can following adoption of zoning, which is still a way out. He said his commitment was to move the application along as soon as possible.

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