By Scott Stanfield – Comox Valley Record, Published: October 28, 2013 12:00 PM; Updated: October 28, 2013 12:24 PM
In a 5-2 vote, Courtenay council defeated a rezoning application at 1648 Thorpe Ave. near Valley View Drive where the owners had hoped to add a basement suite to their house.
A large contingent of neighbours expressed opposition at a public hearing. Their representative, lawyer R.J. Swift, urged council to deny the application due to factors such as noise and higher densification. Residents also say the property has been neglected. Owners Dan and Lisa Klco are in the military and live on the East Coast.
“We have public hearings for a reason,” Coun. Starr Winchester said. “Overwhelmingly, the neighbourhood has spoken.”
Couns. Doug Hillian and Ronna-Rae Leonard voted in favour of the application. Leonard considered the larger context of a lack of affordable housing in the Comox Valley. “It becomes a question of choice,” she said. “It’s hard but it’s also an opportunity.”
The tipping point for Coun. Bill Anglin was the building scheme, which Swift had said prohibits anything but single-family development in the area. “The owners were aware of the building scheme,” Anglin said. “It’s buyer beware.”
While recognizing the need for rental housing, Mayor Larry Jangula prefers to see secondary suites in a densified downtown core, not in neighbourhoods with single-family homes.
Jangula was the lone member of council to side with a recommendation to defeat a rezoning application that would permit a secondary suite at 1968 Dogwood Dr. He notes the property has generated a number of concerns. It contains a single dwelling with an illegal secondary suite.
While he understands there are problems with the property, Anglin needs further information before making an informed decision about the application. “These are very tough decisions,” he said.
The rest of council also opted to proceed with a public hearing before making a decision.
A report notes concerns regarding “ongoing use of staff and RCMP resources to address the situation occurring at this property.” An earlier staff report says several neighbours had opposed rezoning due to “ongoing disruption by the current tenants.” Last year, police received eight calls about noise and other complaints. Before 2012, the report states there were no calls recorded for the address. Staff notes the applicant “has been difficult to contact and has not been forthcoming with information during the application process.”
The applicant, Mark Filipponi, held a public information meeting in May. Five people attended. In July, council had postponed the application three months to allow further neighbourhood consultation to address concerns. Just one person attended a second meeting Oct. 5.