Shed at centre of Penticton neighbours’ feud
It’s a neighbourhood dispute that has been 15 years in the making, encompassing a series of homeowners.
Dennis and Jane Roszell, the latest owners of 910 Three Mile Road, want to make some changes to their property, building a garage out front and repairing and upgrading a shed in the back that was built without permits in the early 1990s.
“The property as it sits is an eyesore to the neighbourhood,” said Dennis Roszell, in a letter accompanying his application. “It is my understanding that previous neighbours have complained and wanted this work done.”
The shed comes as close as 0.6 metres to the property line and is the source of a notice on title regarding work done on the property without a permit by a previous owner. Roszell’s intent is to upgrade the structure to meet building code regulations, though it still won’t meet setback requirements.
The shed is one of the main concerns for Lindanna Laturnus, the current owner of the neighbouring property. She isn’t happy about the present state of the property, but was also opposed to the variance Roszell needs to upgrade the shed. Laturnus cited a list of concerns including fire hazard from the closeness of the buildings as well as loss of enjoyment of her property, denigrating the neighbourhood and contributing to the instability of the steep slope behind the houses.
Speaking for Laturnus, Richard Giles pointed out the closeness of the structures would likely lead to fire services being unable to battle any fire that should break out, resulting in not just a fire risk for the owners, but a larger public safety risk.
“Without some space between those two structures … if we get into any sort of fire in either one of them, they are both gone. Even the trees that go between them, highly flammable,” said Giles, who suggested that such a blaze would race up the wooded hill above the homes up to Naramata Road. “When those two houses go up together … there is going to be a risk to public safety.”
However, in the staff report outlining the application, planner Blake Laven supported the Roszells’ contention that allowing them to enhance the structure as it is would not increase the fire hazard.
“The current situation presents a much higher fire risk because of the structure that was constructed without permits,” reads Laven’s report. He also notes that prior to any construction, a B.C. Building Code review would be done to ensure any structures are up to minimum safety standards, including assessing fire risk.
“There is no fire hazard; we are reducing the fire hazard. But the structure I want to fix the way it is,” said Roszell. “I just want to repair what is there. I don’t want to tear my structure down. If you say no, we just leave it. It is certainly not a good solution. I am prepared to fix it properly, as it exists.”
While he didn’t want to stop the applicant from renovating and improving his property, Coun. Garry Litke was concerned that the non-conforming shed existed at all.
“I cannot agree to most of the variances that are being proposed,” said Litke, who felt that rather than a simple notice on title, city council in 1994 should have put an injunction on the property.
Allowing the variance, he said, would only legitimize a mistake that was made more than 15 years ago. Litke also opposed the addition of a garage to the front of the property, which would be the only such structure on the row of five homes.
“The street is becoming improved, but to allow this garage to be built only three metres from the street, it reminds me of a hockey players teeth,” said Litke. “There is going to be something missing, something sticking out into the street.”
Roszell offered a compromise, shortening the backyard extension enough to make a one-metre setback. That won over Coun. Andrew Jakubeit, who also had concerns about the closeness of the buildings.
Council chose to grant the variance with a vote of 5-2, with Litke and Coun. Wes Hopkin voting against it.