Emotions ran high at a District of West Kelowna public hearing Tuesday as more than 40 people crowded into council chambers.
The majority of those people were against a proposed zoning bylaw amendment that would see a 7,000-square-metre parcel in the Smith Creek neighbourhood transformed from small lot country residential (RU5) to single detached housing (R1).
The piece of property is part of a nine-lot RU5 subdivision, known as Hillside Estates, which is owned by MacLean Homes.
The district gave the bylaw amendments first and second reading July 9 and directed staff to bring the application to the agricultural advisory committee for comment prior to the public hearing.
Both the agricultural advisory committee and the advisory planning commission supported the proposal.
The Smith Creek residents in attendance Tuesday voiced concern over a variety of issues related to the rezoning application.
Rainbow Road resident Jack Smith told council he was involved in the original subdivision of the properties on Rainbow Road, which is east of MacLean Homes’ nine-lot subdivision.
The properties were zoned small lot country residential so they could act as a buffer zone to the Agricultural Land Reserve properties to the west, south and east.
The last three official community plans—two of which belonged to the regional district—supported the buffer.
He explained long-time residents in the area, as well as those who have purchased any of the nine Hillside Estates lots, were told the lots would remain RU5.
“Everyone who is on our properties have adhered to that principal and everyone who bought the new ones have expected that to be maintained,” said Smith.
He added several variances and exemptions would have to be approved in order to subdivide the parcel in question.
“There are two no-build, no-disturb zones on there that will severely restrict where the houses could be built,” said Smith.
“If (this) lot is allowed to be rezoned to R1, then everyone may want to subdivide their lots along our street. With the many number of variances that you would have to hand out, you’d be hard-pressed to deny those people their requests.”
Smith presented council with a petition signed by 66 residents in the area.
Dave Compton spoke to council on behalf of the Smith Creek Residents’ Association. He called the application “intrusive.”
“We use the word intrusive as we believe that it intrudes on a lifestyle to which the property owners bought into many year ago and is now being completely disrupted by an absentee property owner for the sake of profit and gain without regard to (his) neighbours,” said Compton.
Other residents expressed concerns about increased traffic, unstable soil, deterioration of walkways, previous experiences dealing with MacLean Homes and obstructed views.
Graham MacLean, president of MacLean Homes, told council he lives in West Vancouver; however, he said he’s not a “parachute person” and noted he owns properties in Kelowna as well.
MacLean purchased the property in 2006 and has made two previous applications in 2007 and 2009 to amend the OCP Land Use Designation. Council did not support his application in 2007 at first and second reading; therefore, the file was closed.
MacLean withdrew his 2009 application following the public consultation component, prior to council consideration.
Since he’s owned the property, MacLean claimed he has improved the area.
“We put a buffer in, we put a walkway in, we put (in) curbs and gutters. We’ve improved Smith Creek, we’ve improved Rainbow…we’ve done a lot of stuff in that area. Not only for us, but for the community as well,” said MacLean.
He added he’d be willing to put in a walkway to connect Smith Creek Park to Saddleridge Park.
Staff will bring back recommendations for third reading to council in the coming months.