White Rock rejects proposed changes to muffler-site project
A White Rock councillor who chastised a developer for asking the city to allow height increases on two of five buildings proposed for West Beach was applauded for the move in city hall Monday.
"Every two feet that is in your face and shouldn't be there is wrong," said Coun. Al Campbell, commenting on zoning amendments brought to the land use and planning committee.
"Don't come to us looking for an extra two feet that you're not entitled to."
Campbell was referring to a request made by proponents of a complex that was approved more than a year ago at the site of White Rock Mufflers at the base of Oxford Street. At that time, plans consisted of a four-storey apartment building, two three-storey townhouse structures and a segment of two-storey townhouses over at-grade commercial units.
Richmond-based LLW Holdings Ltd. asked for revisions after taking ownership of the site in September. In addition to more height, a request was made to add a fifth, two-unit building; the number of planned residential units has been decreased to 62 from 67 and parking has been increased.
The need for one height increase was attributed to a miscalculation of the flood plain; the second was requested to create better "balance."
In detailing the latest application, Paul Stanton – the city's director of planning and development services – said the developer "ran into a few complications" when it was realized residential units of one building were designed to start below the flood plain level.
To address the problem, the building needs to start about two feet higher, putting the finished structure above zoning limits. Without the increase, "they would lose a storey on top," Stanton said.
Stanton told Peace Arch News Wednesday that the flood plain issue was missed by the city and developer alike.
"They missed that, we missed that," he said. "We all knew about it beforehand, but we all forgot about it because the focus was on the height."
A similar explanation did not ease Coun. Helen Fathers' concerns Monday.
"It's as clear as mud to me," she said, questioning the legality of moving ahead when the previous approval was based on inaccurate information – an issue Stanton assured doesn't exist.
Campbell said he is not convinced city staff should share blame.
"I don't buy that at all," he said. "It was (the developer's) error putting it in the flood plain."
Campbell added that if the applicant can't make money without a fourth floor, "then you paid too much for that land."
Mayor Wayne Baldwin asked if the proposal meets the guidelines of the Official Community Plan. Stanton confirmed it did.
A motion by Fathers to "reject the zoning amendment bylaw as outlined" passed with Couns. Larry Robinson and Louise Hutchinson opposed.
Baldwin later told PAN clarification is needed.
"We really have to talk about it because it's not clear at all," he said.
Asked about the potential impact of the decision on the development as a whole, Baldwin said it may lead to "a lost opportunity."
"And that's a shame."