Painting by local artist Catherine McIntosh showing what the modern home would look like between the heritage homes on Silica Street.

Second time lucky for house in Nelson heritage neighbourhood

Nelson city council reluctantly approved a development variance permit for a modern, flat roof home

Nelson city council reluctantly approved a development variance permit for a modern, flat roof home to be built on a narrow infill lot between two heritage homes in the 800-block of Silica Street.

Council had rejected property owner Kelley Deon’s initial request for a permit last November, sending him back to the drawing board to either redesign the home to be two feet narrower to fit within the allowed land use designation or modify the exterior finishings to appeal to council’s desire to have the home match the neighbourhood. Deon opted for the latter.

“I have contacted a local heritage consultant for advice. I have written each concerned neighbour to show them design adjustments and address some of their concerns,” Deon wrote in his new permit request.

Some of the changes included trading the tin and Hardy Plank siding for a more tradition looking burnt cedar finish, and adding a a one-foot roof overhang with exposed joists was to break up the boxed look. Deon estimated those additions will increase his building costs by $15,000.

“We tried drawing a pitched roof, but it looked very strange on a 17-foot house,” he noted in his letter.

A painting of the street with the addition of the modern home was also provided for council’s consideration.

Most councillors agreed that though they weren’t thrilled about the overall design of the house, the compromise on the exterior finishings made it more acceptable for the neighbourhood. They also acknowledged that if they rejected the variance, it wouldn’t stop the owner from building the same style house a little narrower.

“I appreciate the effort the proponent has gone through to make this more acceptable to the neighbourhood,” councillor Donna Macdonald said. “I’m not 100 percent jumping for joy about it, but I can accept it as a reasonable compromise in the circumstances, given how narrow the lot is.”

The 25-foot wide lot would allow for a 15-foot wide home without a permit, but the property owner wants to build 17-feet wide. He said if he made the house narrower, he would have to make it longer, which would block his neighbours’ sun and impact their property value.

Councillor Robin Cherbo was the only councillor who voted against granting the variance permit.

“This building stuck in that area could detract from the value of the other homes on the street by being so modern,” he argued. “If it was put on the waterfront somewhere, it would be more acceptable. In that neighbourhood it’s just going to sticks out really badly.”

Ultimately council agreed to give the home owner the permit, with the condition that he stick with the exterior materials and colours laid out in the application.

The finished structure will have a 2,000 square foot, three bedroom home on the upper two floors with a 620 square foot, one bedroom rental suite below.