Council sets special meeting to discuss Nelson Landing

Several building variances will be needed for the first townhome eight-plex proposed at Nelson Landing. - conceptual drawing
Several building variances will be needed for the first townhome eight-plex proposed at Nelson Landing.
— image credit: conceptual drawing

Nelson Landing's contentious development application will be up for discussion at a special city council meeting this coming Monday.

The proponent, Vancouver's Storm Mountain Development Corporation, wants to start construction on its first in a series of eightplex townhomes on Sproat Drive. But first the company needs council's okay on several variances to development bylaws, in order to allow for narrower road and waterfront pathway widths, and remove the requirement to have a sidewalk in front of the homes.

Numerous homeowners living near the development site at Nelson's east waterfront are concerned these changes would compromise public safety. Opponents aren't necessarily against the development in general, but don't think it go ahead as planned.

Storm Mountain has held two open houses in as many weeks to try to address some of the public's concern and provide more information about full scope of the project. Yet many residents remain unsatisfied.

An online petition opposing the requested variances, started last week by a group calling themselves Friends of Nelson's Waterfront, has collected 275 signatures.

Robert Maclean, a 60-year resident of Nelson, wrote on the petition site, "This application is not in the best interest of our friends and neighbours who live near this proposed development. It offends our community values. These variances should not be granted."

Petra Lahmann also added her comments on the petition: "I am in favour of development, however not at any cost. The City bylaws were crafted to create the best scenario for development — why break all the rules for one developer? Let's get this large development right the first time."

At each of the past two council meetings (March 3 and 17), between 30 and 50 Nelsonites concerned about the requests being made for Nelson Landing packed into council chambers to show their opposition. Among the crowd on March 17 were Michael Donner and Dave Sowiak, who built the Amber Bay condos on Radio Avenue.

Donner said Nelson Landing is making "dangerous" and "unprecedented" variances requests and should instead adjust its building design to come closer to meeting the existing zoning requirements.

"With full knowledge of the Nelson bylaws, the developer has basically painted himself and the council into a corner with these requests," Donner told council, reading from a prepared statement. "He should have and still can adjust his eightplex to better fit the space allowed."

He said the site plan leaves no wiggle room to widen the road or add sidewalks in the future if the need occurs. There's plans to put a pedestrian pathway on CPR land, but Donner noted that the developer would need permission to do so and doesn't have a backup plan if his request is not granted.

Sowiak added his concern about all of the variances being brought forward as one package: "These aren't small variances — every one of them is a large variance," he said, suggesting that the developer should have had to go through a full re-zoning process because of the amount of change being requested.

However, the city hasn't required rezoning because a previous developer (Sorenson Fine Homes) was already successful in having the land zoned for a similar development. The townhouses Storm Mountain plans to build match what was put forward by the earlier developer.

The Nelson Landing development, on 13-acre, lakeside development site on former Kootenay Forest Products land, could eventually grow to include more than more than 200 residences and multi-use buildings.

Nelson city council will hold a special meeting on Monday, March 24 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of city hall to decide if the first phase of Nelson Landing can go ahead as proposed.

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