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Public speaks out against zoning bylaw in Harrison

Marc Ferrero stands at the microphone at a public hearing for the proposed zoning bylaw in Harrison Hot Springs.  - Jessica Peters/ Observer
Marc Ferrero stands at the microphone at a public hearing for the proposed zoning bylaw in Harrison Hot Springs.
— image credit: Jessica Peters/ Observer

About two dozen residents turned out for a public hearing regarding the proposed zoning bylaw in Harrison Hot Springs on Monday night.

And almost all of those who spoke during the hour-long meeting expressed their disapproval of the draft bylaw, which clearly sets out rules for secondary suites.

"I'm against the bylaw," said Hank Smith, of Harrison.

"I, too, oppose secondary suites," added Marg Doman.

It was a message that was repeated by most who chose to speak. Some of the concerns voiced included a decline in property values, an increase in traffic and crime, and inconsistency with a building covenant that some say they had to sign before building.

"This bylaw goes through and I'm gone," said Peter Bugden. He brought a copy of the covenant, which he said he had to sign before he could build his Miami River Drive house. The covenant states that the minimum size for a dwelling is 1,100 square feet. The proposed bylaw states the maximum size of a suite could be about 968 square feet.

"This thing has to have some kind of power," Bugden said, holding the document. "It superseded you (the Village office) in the day."

Others worried about parking woes. While the proposed bylaw states that a both a house with or without a suite would be allowed a maximum of four cars, those at the meeting stated there would be no way for the Village to enforce parking.

And that, they fear, will lead to congestion on the streets.

"The centre of the Village will be every day like Canada Day," said Leslie Ghezesan.

Spiro Halatsis, who was also opposed to the changes, stated that he left Surrey in the '90s when they allowed secondary suites. He wondered why council would allow secondary suites to come in and "destroy this nice peaceful village?"

"If something isn't broke, don't fix it," he said. "What we had was working fine."

John Allen spoke three times at the microphone, in addition to five letters he sent to the Village before the hearing. Prior to the public hearing Monday, there were two open houses led by Andre Isakov, manager of planning and community services.

In total, Mayor Leo Facio said the Village received 10 letters. They were not read at the public hearing, but were available for the public to read.

Allen is opposed to the bylaw for numerous reasons. The bylaw states that a homeowner can only rent out one portion of a house.

"It's a foolish thing to put in a bylaw," he said. "You cannot regulate who lives on a property."

He added that the current Official Community Plan states that the Village must provide for a range of housing, and the proposed bylaw doesn't allow for residential, single family dwelling neighbourhoods free of secondary suites.

There will be "basement suites all over Harrison" if the bylaw goes through, he added.

No decision was set to made at the public hearing. It was a chance for the public to hear the proposed bylaw and give feedback to the Village staff and council.

It will come before the council at a later date, and will require three readings and adoption.

news@ahobserver.com

 

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