Paradise council split over corner lot permits

By Mark Squibb/July 9, 2022

It was a tie vote followed on the heels of another tie vote in Paradise Tuesday night, as the question of corner lot applications divided council.

The first application was for a permit which had previously been denied by council, to convert the existing two-unit dwelling on 1 Ellesmere Avenue into a three-unit dwelling.

Deputy Mayor Kimberley Street said the Planning and Protective Services Committee recommended council deny the application based on the negative responses to the Discretionary Use notice and the earlier denial.

“It was determined that the application did not differ significantly enough from the previous application to warrant a change in council’s decision to refuse this application,” said Street, who also noted that the three-unit dwelling would not fit the neighbourhood.

Councilor Deborah Quilty, however, had a different take, and said that some concerns raised by neighbouring residents – including an increase in traffic and a negative appearance— were unfounded.

“I’ve analysed all the pros and cons of the application and some of the comments and issues that arose form residents that had come back with their opinions on it — I mean, it’s one extra unit, how much more traffic is going to be generated by one extra unit?” said Quilty. “In the scheme of things, I don’t think it’s going to negatively affect the appearance of the property. It’s certainly not going to lose the family setting, as someone mentioned in their notes. And it certainly provides affordable housing accommodations in that area, and we as a town are out promoting affordable housing right now.”

Quitly said some residents had even raised concerns about robberies and break-and-enters associated with approval of the application — a comment which she didn’t feel was justified.

“If that add on was sitting in the middle of a street somewhere and not on a corner, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, it would be a yes,” summarized Quilty.

She concluded the negative feedback provided by the 15 residents was not enough to toss out the application, as it remained in line with all other development regulations, and she recommended approval.

Street countered that because it’s a corner lot application, it could impact the neighbourhood’s overall appearance. Again, she argued the apartment wasn’t a good fit for the neighbourhood.

“There’s lots of different reasons why,” said. She reiterated that she would not support the application due to the residents’ concerns.

Councillor Glenn Carew said he had received plenty of calls regarding the application. He felt the addition could pose a safety threat as it may block drivers’ sightlines, and, like Street, felt the apartment would not be a good fit for the neighbourhood. He also expressed concerns about inadequate parking. He too said he would not support the application.

Councillor Larry Vaters also noted that he would not support it.

“Nothing material or significant has changed as the result of this re-application, so therefore my plan is to vote in favour of the motion (which was to deny the application,)” said Vaters.

The gauntlet swung back again as Mayor Dan Bobbet voiced his support for the application.

“I’m going to make a comment, and I don’t usually do this,” said Bobbett. “But I will tonight.”

He pointed out there is already a similar multi dwelling unit in the area. He also noted the property fronts on Ellesmere, not the busier Carlisle Drive, meaning vehicles pulling out from the property would pull onto Ellsemere, and that as per the application there must be adequate parking made available. As to sightlines, he said town engineers determined there would be no issue, and that the dwelling meets all the zoning requirements.

“I initially voted against this application when it was first here, but the proponent did reapply, and they did change some aesthetics, like fencing, and shrubs…  In this zone it meets the side yard requirements on all sides. It meets the parking requirements.”

Bobbett said he would not vote in support of Street’s motion, which was to reject the application.

“My question,” continued Bobbett, “is it based solely on the number of complaints, or is it based on the validity of the complaints?”

Street said the number of complaints was certainly taken into account when the committee made the decision to recommend refusal of the application.

“So, it wasn’t the validity of the points, it was just the number of complaints?” summarized Bobbett.

“If it’s based on just numbers, that’s not a valid reason (to deny the application),” said Bobbett, adding that complaints about the depreciation of property values were likely unfounded.

Street allowed that while there may have been some instances of ‘Not in My Backyard,’ syndrome among the neighbours’ objections, she felt it was important to represent residents.

“I just felt, as a councillor, that it was important to support them also, because they are living there,” said Street.

The discussion went on for several more minutes, with councillors holding firm on their positions.

When it came time for a vote, the vote was split exactly down the middle. With councillor Elizabeth Laurie absent, there were six members of council present. Street, Carew, and Vaters voted in support of Street’s motion to deny the application. Mayor Bobbett, Quilty, and Patrick Martin against it.

Since the vote was a tie, the motion to deny the application was defeated.

And, just to prove that truth is indeed stranger than fiction, the very next motion brought forward by Street was to deny, based on the recommendation of the Planning and Protective Services committee, the addition of another unit to the multi-unit dwelling at the corner lot of 1 Gillian Place due to residents complaints against the application and the belief that the dwelling would not be a good fit for the neighbourhood.

“This location is also on a corner, and it’s the same responses, but different people,” said Street.

Again, council debated, with councilors using the same arguments, almost verbatim, with Bobbett adding it was ‘mind-boggling’ that folks could come up with “whatever they want when it comes to saying they don’t want something in their area.”

Again, Street, Carew, and Vaters voted to deny the dwelling, while Bobbett, Quilty, and Martin voted to support it, meaning the motion to deny the application was defeated.

The discussion on both applications lasted about half an hour.

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