Neighbours left in limbo

Neighbours of a stalled Okanagan Avenue development shouldn’t expect to receive any further assistance from city council.

Complaint: Neighbours to a stalled development on Okanagan Avenue are frustrated with the condition the lots have remained in and that little can be done by council to assist them.

Complaint: Neighbours to a stalled development on Okanagan Avenue are frustrated with the condition the lots have remained in and that little can be done by council to assist them.

Neighbours of a stalled Okanagan Avenue development shouldn’t expect to receive any further assistance from city council.

Following up on a May 28 resolution of council, development services director Corey Paiement wrote a letter addressed to Broadview Properties Inc. Keldon Ratzlaff, Melanie Ratzlaff and others in regard of the “status of development and property appearance” of 3161 Okanagan Ave. NE. In the letter, Paiement says council acknowledges the proposed development was partially complete and that this may be due to uncertain economic times. He says council appreciated that the property was “tidied up” in Sept. 2011, but “believes you could complete some additional work on the property, such as planting ground cover to minimize the potential for dust.”

What wasn’t mentioned in the letter was a specific time line discussed by council at the May 28 meeting.

For George and Shelley Heggenstaller, who neighbour the stalled lot, and who have raised concerns to the city regarding appearance, smell and dust coming from the lot, Paiement’s letter missed the mark.

“I can assure you that no such clean up… has been done directly behind my house. I still live in a sandpit,” claims Shelley in a letter to council.

At council’s July 23 meeting, Coun. Denise Reimer motioned to have another letter sent, this time specifying a date. Paiement, however, noted the city has no means to compel the developer

“My request of the letter was that the property owner contact me and that has not happened,” said Paiement.

Coun. Kentel said Paiement’s letter implies the developer is off the hook, and she questioned how the city’s unsightly premises bylaw wouldn’t apply, going so far as to suggest the bylaw be modified, as “something like this probably, in the future, will come forward.”

Paiement said the bylaw primarily deals with garbage and rubbish, and doesn’t apply to a property based on its state of development.

Coun. Chad Eliason said he’s seen the property at least 30 times this year, and noted the city holds 125 per cent of the landscaping bond, used to make sure that a development, “when it stops,” is not an “unsightly terrible mess.”

“When developers don’t have enough money to finish their development, whether it be for personal reasons or economic reasons, however that works, we can’t get blood from a stone. If there’s no money to do it, there’s no money to do it,” said Eliason.

Asked if council has the right to send another letter, city administrator Carl Bannister said staff didn’t recommend it.

“I guess the answer to that question depends on what you say or the consequences of not doing it,” said Bannister. “If you simply say to do it by such a date, then I guess it’s fine.”

But council, in the end, voted against sending a second letter.

At council’s Aug. 13 meeting, Mayor Nancy Cooper said she had since spoken with the developer, and that they agreed to plant more grass and continue with the development.

Salmon Arm Observer

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