Patio home developers get a break with city council

Patio home developers in Campbell River get an exemption

Developers of new patio homes on the corner of Niluht and Alder won’t have to underground power lines despite it being a requirement of the city.

Steve Lindsay with Brenwin Developments asked city council for an exemption because he said the $200,000 job provides little benefit and makes the project unviable.

“The cost to actually place the overhead systems underground is very high,” Lindsay said. “This work is complex and very expensive. The utility companies may not agree to permit this work for such a short section. If they do, they will charge the full cost to convert their systems, plus the service connections to other lots within the affected section. This is unfair and unjust for one developer to undertake, and pay for all of this work.”

The city typically requires new developments to underground power lines which sets the stage for other developments coming online to do the same.

Council in this case, however, agreed to Lindsay’s request to keep the power lines overhead as city staff acknowledged that undergrounding on Niluht is challenging, particularly because the power lines are on one side of the street – the opposite side of the new patio homes.

Chris Osborne, city planner, also noted that it’s unlikely there will be further development.

“There is very little realistic prospect that other significant and qualifying development sites will be assembled nearby,” Osborne said. “No other sites with frontage greater than 45 metres exist on Niluht Road. The likely long-term effect would therefore be for a small portion of underground wiring adjacent to this site, with long unbroken overhead wiring continuing up and down Alder Street on either side.”

Lindsay also pointed out that there is limited room to install all of the utility ducts, vaults and service boxes between the road edge and the property line which would mean reconstruction of the east side of the existing roadway and replacement of the existing curb and gutter and sidewalk.

The new development proposes to have seven homes on each side of the development, with four facing Niluht and having direct access to the road. The rest would face into the internal strata road. The units along Alder Street are expected to have the sides of the homes facing onto the street.

Osborne said the homes won’t be identical.

“Three slightly different design types are proposed for the 14 houses,” he said. “All are of a similar modern, angular appearance, providing an interesting contrast to the more orthodox housing styles found in the area. The contemporary style would, nevertheless, retain a west-coast aesthetic and fit well in context.”

Coun. Ron Kerr praised the developers for their vision.

“It’s really exciting,” Kerr said. “I think you’re really setting the bar high for development in Campbell River.”

The only concerns with the development at last week’s council meeting came from neighbours Glenn and Linda Foster whose Alder home shares a property line with some of the 14 proposed units. The Fosters wrote a letter to council outlining their concerns with a variance that will allow the developer to build closer to the property line than the city bylaw typically allows.

“On looking at the plan there is no reason to have this dwelling so close to ours,” the Fosters wrote. “This will be very intrusive on our property.”

The pair are also concerned about noise.

“Having 14 homes as neighbours, of which four will share our property line, is bound to change the serenity of our property as compared to most properties who only have one adjoining neighbour,” they wrote. Greg Damant of Cascadia Architects, who is working on the development, said only the first storey of the homes is encroaching on the property line, so blocked views should not be a problem plus, he said, as many trees as possible will be preserved to afford some privacy.

Lindsay added that there will also be a fence, likely a cedar fence. Coun. Andy Adams said he was satisfied with the efforts, but encouraged the developers to continue to have dialogue with the Fosters.

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