Carriage house given rough ride

Council approves permit for proposed Naramata Road structure after hearing concerns about potential crop damage

  • Nov. 29, 2011 4:00 p.m.

A carriage house proposal for Naramata Road received a frosty reception during a delegation hearing last week at Penticton council.

The owners of 1032 Naramata Rd. were seeking a development variance permit to build an energy-efficient carriage house on site. The existing 1930s cottage on site is leased out to accommodate rental housing on Naramata Bench, and the new building would be arranged over three levels to conform to the contours of the sloping site.

According to the staff report, the proposed carriage house is 68 per cent of the building footprint of the existing house — eight per cent larger than permitted in the zoning bylaw. The carriage house is also suggested to be for the side yard rather than the rear as required under zoning.

“Both of these regulations are in place to ensure that the carriage house is recognized as a subordinate structure on the property and not a second principal dwelling. In this case, there will be no question that the new house will be the principal residence,” the report states.

While the building is larger than set out in the bylaw, the subject property is bigger as well. At 3,605 square metres, the site is seven times larger than the minimum area of 500 square metres.

But neighbour Roderick Anderson said that the drawings submitted to the city were not representative of what’s on site, which currently allows for “air drainage,” or the flow of cold air moving downhill to make the slope less prone to winter frost.

As a viticulturalist, Anderson said he and his wife purchased their property in 2006 explicitly to grow vines that enjoy good air flow. Building a carriage house nearby, he said, would create a “frost pocket” that would dam cold air which would cause vine loss on his land.

Mayor Dan Ashton said he thought the conifers existing on site would be stopping the airflow if nothing else, but Anderson said buildings are more of a concern as frost can go around trees but houses create a “dam” of air.

“I have a right to farm in B.C. I’m going to lose thousands of vines. I’d like to know who would like to pay for that,” he said, before storming out of council chambers.

Owner Bill Laven took to the podium to explain the house will feature south-facing solar panels, and the reflection from those would mitigate any frost concerns if not help increase vine yield.

Coun. Mike Pearce asked Laven whether the applicant would assume liability should crop loss occur, so “we don’t get caught up in your neighbourly situation,” he said.

After Laven concurred, Pearce moved to accept the staff recommendation with one proviso: the applicant sign an agreement indemnifying the city from liability if frost damage were to occur.

Coun. Garry Litke expressed concern about the proviso, saying he wasn’t convinced about the potential for litigation or the city’s liability regarding potential crop loss.

“It’s either them or us, councillor,” Mayor Dan Ashton said.

“If there’s an issue with liability, then we shouldn’t be approving it,” Litke responded. “We have protections and insurance. I don’t think we should put one individual out on the line to dry.”

Pearce’s motion failed after Litke, Judy Sentes and Andrew Jakubeit voted against it. Sentes moved the staff recommendation to issue the development variance permit, and that passed unanimously.