Nelson city council approved a re-zoning application to allow medium density residential development at 2000 Choquette Avenue, clearing the way for three townhome condo buildings to be built on what was previously undeveloped golf course land.
About 30 residents who felt they’d be negatively affected by the change showed up at a public hearing and about a third of them used the opportunity to voice their concern to Nelson city council. The project proponent — Nelson’s Patrick Davis of West Creek Developments — spoke in favour of the rezoning, as did Barry Auliffe, vice president of Granite Pointe golf club, and Hollie Wallace, a local realtor.
The main concern for neighbours was that a condo development on the site wouldn’t fit with the neighbourhood and lead to increased vehicle traffic in what is already a busy area with narrow roads and inadequate sidewalks.
But Auliffe said it would be a good opportunity for the golf course, which needs to sell land in order to pay down its debt and ensure the long term viability of the greens. Wallace added that there’s local demand for the type of compact condo units West Creek builds at an entry-level price range. And Davis stressed that his project was specifically designed to mitigate the impact on neighbours.
“To have good flow with the neighbourhood, it was our intention when we designed the site to have everything pushed back, as far away from the neighbouring properties as possible,” said Davis, noting that the closest structure to the property line would be a row of car ports and storage lockers, which would be more than 15 metres from existing homes.
He also cited a traffic study that his company commissioned at the request of city council, which verified that the development would not have a significant impact on the area.
But councillor Robin Cherbo thought the traffic study was misleading because it was carried out in December. He was the only councillor to vote against the rezoning, saying the roads and intersections in upper Rosemont should be improved before any new developments go in.
Councillor Candace Batycki was also concerned about traffic. She pointed out that the homes would be quite far from commercial areas and most people living there would likely rely on their vehicles for daily transportation. But she said any development in that area would face the same problem and didn’t consider it a strong enough reason to oppose having something built there.
Councillor Donna Macdonald added that if the property was instead zoned for low density residential development, as some neighbours suggested they would prefer, then only a few very wealthy people would be able to afford to live there. Both councillor Paula Kiss and councillor Deb Kozak agreed, saying they liked the idea of having relatively affordable housing options near the golf course.
Ultimately the majority of councillors voted in favour of rezoning the property. The developer will now be allowed to go ahead with construction on the site, though Davis said he plans to come back to council to request a variance to the permitted building height.
Without the variance, the development would still go ahead with 24 units spread over three buildings. But with the variance West Creek could up that to 30 units, by allowing some additional ground-level development.
The variance will have no effect on maximum height of the building, and Davis said if those additional units go ahead his company would use some of the revenue to cover the cost of installing a sidewalk along Choquette Avenue, which would otherwise be a $20,000 expense the city would have to cover.