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House on a hill too slippery a slope for Kelowna council

Kelowna council said no to a request to build a carriage house on the steep slope behind this house.
October 31, 2017 - 7:30 PM

KELOWNA - Just because you can build it, does it mean you should?

Despite the assurances of a geotechnical engineer that a house could successfully be built, Kelowna council has followed staff recommendations and said no to a man who wanted to build a big carriage house on a 40 percent slope.

A representative for property owner Frederick Hamel argued his case before council despite a negative recommendation from planning staff who in a report said the slope is unstable and goes well past the normal limit of 30 per cent.

Beyond the instability of the site, staff cite environmental and visual problems with the application, which would have seen the property rezoned to allow for construction of 3,350 square foot carriage house on the upper portion of the lot at 405 Poplar Point Dr.

The lot also fronts on Herbert Heights Road which runs parallel to Poplar Point Drive but further up the side of Knox Mountain. It’s the slope in between the two roads that concern planning staff, which in the middle portion of the lot reaches 80 per cent.

While the homeowner proposed a complex plan to address geotechnical concerns, community planning manager Ryan Smith told council staff do not believe the plan could be properly executed and also violates some city bylaws and development guidelines.

The city’s own geotechnical mapping shows the potential for moderate to high soil erosion on the property which it describes as unstable and subject to soil saturation.

Calling it the “missing tooth”, Hamel also argued that all 16 neighbours have already done what they were asking for, which leaves a gap on the street but Smith told council most of the houses on the street were built before 2000 and would not receive staff support if the owners were to make a similar rezoning application today.

Despite staff’s recommendation not all councillors were convinced; with some arguing the proposal should go forward to a public hearing after being more fully fleshed out.

With Coun. Charlie Hodge in hospital, the final vote was tied 4-4 which defeated the original recommendation, however an alternative recommendation, which would have allowed the proposal to go to public hearing, was also defeated on a tie vote.

City clerk Stephen Fleming said he’s never seen two tie votes in a row but it means Hamel’s application was denied.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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