November 18, 2015 - 6:30 PM
PENTICTON - Even after a lengthy discussion on a variance permit that would allow upgrades to the empty lots where the Three Gables Hotel once stood, council could not come to an agreement this week.
At hand was a staff recommendation to approve a development variance permit on the property to formalize the site’s use as a parking lot, with a variance to avoid paving the lot.
Council originally looked at the matter on Aug. 17 but deferred the proposal to allow staff, the Downtown Penticton Association and the property owner more time to work out details.
The staff recommendation would have required grading, levelling and treatment of the lot with a top coat, along with individually delineated parking spaces.
A three-metre wide amenity area would be installed along Main Street containing an irrigated landscape area, benches matching other downtown furniture and lighting matching existing current downtown fixtures.
Several members of council felt the permit would result in the landowner doing nothing more to enhance the property, noting it’s unchanged condition over the last 16 years.
Coun. Judy Sentes expressed the need to attach a time limitation to the permit, something Director of Development Services Jules Hall said would likely result in the landowner having to completely reapply for a temporary use permit.
Coun. Tarik Sayeed called the proposal 'appalling,' saying the landowner needed to be held accountable to city bylaws, but Mayor Andrew Jakubeit noted several parking lots owned by the city do not have asphalt surfaces.
Coun. Picton said he understood his fellow councillor’s concerns, but felt it would be a terrible thing not to see the permit through.
“This landowner has shown us for 16 years he is going to build what we want him to build there. After 16 years we have an opportunity for some form of improvement — he doesn’t have to currently do anything else with that property,” he said, adding it wasn’t his first choice for a parking lot, but it was an allowable use for the property. “If it wasn’t for the variance, not requiring a topcoat, we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation.”
Council eventually decided to defer the matter, in a four to three decision, to allow staff time to investigate the process by which a temporary use permit could be applied. It will be back at council on Dec. 7.
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