Neighbourhood says new house plan is just too big

Penticton city council OKs large house on Lakeside Road, but draws a line on height

This property on Lakeshore Road has a spectacular view, but other conditions don’t leave much room to build on it. -Courtesy City of Penticton

A house proposed for a Lakeside lot brought the neighbourhood out to a public hearing in front of council.

The request was originally introduced at council’s March 7 meeting, but deffered for two weeks to give neighbours extra time to consider the application, which includes five variances, one raising the height of the building two meters above the permitted height.

The lot at 4047 Lakeside Road is one of a strip of seven vacant properties, all earmarked for low-density residential and sloping steeply down to the lake. All the lots are also affected by a large sewer easement at the rear and a large setback from Skaha Lake required by provincial riparian regulations.

Blake Laven said the small buildable area, about 700 square feet in the case of this lot, is likely why the lots have never been developed.

The property owners are proposing a building that would be three storeys from the road side, and four stories facing the lake.

Neighbours turned out in force to oppose the variances, with many concerned that it would set a precedent for allowing other tall houses on the remaining vacant lots, along with complaints common to most development: traffic, parking and road safety.

“All those issues I am hearing come down to issues that are going to be there regardless,” said Randy Thew, the property owner. “This is all about the height, this is all about their views. It’s unfortunate, you buy a lot, there is another lot in front of you, eventually there is going to be something built there.”

Former MLA Rick Thorpe and his wife, Yasmin John-Thorpe, are residents of the neighbourhood. They were unable to attend the public hearing, but asked a neighbour to read their letter to council, and questioned whether the Thews had done due diligence before purchasing the property.

“Are these not points a willing buyer should be considering before making their purchase before making their purchase, not after the fact?” asked the Thorpes in their letter, referring to the buildable area, and allowed height under the current zoning.

“Our concern is that this decision will set a precedent for the other 14 lots in this development,” said the Thorpes. “We are opposed to the height variance. Perhaps the proposed plan for the challenging lot should be modified down from approximately 2400 square feet?”

Sentes admits the view from the property is spectacular.

“Just looking at the property … shows the challenge,” said Sentes, questioning why the Thews thought this was a location suitable for a 2400 sq-ft home. “When you only have a 700 square foot piece of property, I just wonder about the due diligence.”

Sentes also questioned the variance that would shrink the riparian setback, noting that amount and size of riparian zones are rapidly shrinking in the valley.

“You have to be mindful of what you can build there,” said Sentes. “You can’t presume five variances will allow you to do that, and because you want to, you should be given it.

“In my opinion, it is an overbuild on a very small property.”

Coun. Helena Konanz suggested allowing the variances except the height, preferring to leave that capped.

“I am willing to give them a shot at building the house with all the variances except for the height,” said Konanz. Her motion passed 5-2, with Couns. Sentes and Andre Martin opposed.