A development proposal for 102 Rockwell Drive is moving forward, after Harrison council approved a development variance permit that more than doubled the building’s height.
Chilliwack’s Kerkhoff Construction has proposed a new marina and apartment complex for the site of the current Harrison Hot Springs Marina, located off Rockwell Drive near the Ranger Station Gallery and Harrison Yacht Club.
The development proposal currently includes a 60-unit apartment building, built over two phases, as well as an above-grade parkade, marina slips and an outdoor parking lot for marina users and guests.
In March, Kerkhoff Construction had asked for a development variance permit for the property, which would reduce the setbacks on the front and side of the property as well as increase the maximum height of the buildings from 12 metres to 25 metres.
According to Kerkhoff’s development and construction manager Clifton Crawford, they needed these development variances to made the project feasible, while maximizing amenity space.
“By going a little bit higher, you don’t have to go as wide, so you can provide a little bit of amenity space,” he said at an open house for the project, held Friday (April 12) at the Harrison Beach Hotel. “It seems to be what will allow us to maximize marina slips … (while balancing) the parking we can provide for non-unit owners with providing the necessary parking in the bylaw for people who are in the units.”
The lot is narrow and long, squeezed between Rockwell Drive and the shores of Harrison Lake. In order to get the number of residential units they need to have the project make money, the apartment buildings would either need to cover the entire property or be built to six storeys, including the above-ground parkade.
(The property is zoned C-4, which allows for 12 metre high buildings and a maximum lot coverage of 60 per cent. With the variance permit increasing the maximum height to 25 metres, the proposed lot coverage is at 60 per cent.)
“We want to preserve parking for people who have need a public marina slip,” architect Alan Nakaska said at the open house. “If we pushed (the apartment buildings) all the way across, we’d have to build marina stalls at $35,000 a pop. No one could afford that.”
Crawford and Nakaska also said having the higher buildings would allow for more views of the lake on Rockwell Drive, as people could see it through the open-air parking section of the development.
The setbacks variances, which would bring the development closer to Rockwell Drive, were requested so there could be more space to develop a riparian area along the waterfront.
Around 25 people showed up to the Friday open house for the development, and Crawford said many of the comments were positive. As a group of residents were leaving, several told Crawford “we’re for it” and that the design is “looking lovely.”
Others, like resident John Allen, were not so positive. Allen had consistently shared his concerns about density on the property with council and the developer.
C-4 properties are zoned for commercial use, which allows for things like pubs, retail shops, restaurants, marinas, float plane docks and microbreweries to be build on site. It also allows for apartments, detached dwellings and other buildings to be included as accessory uses — but as those uses are in addition to the main commercial use, there is no density restrictions for the zone.
Councillor Gerry Palmer brought up that definition of “accessory use” as a possible concern during the April 15 council meeting.
“Without spending too much time looking up dictionary word, accessory suggests subordinate,” Palmer said about the development. “And it’s clear to me that this is not accessory. This is an apartment building. This is mean to be a condo building. If anything the marina is subordinate to the apartment.”
He also voiced concerns about whether the variance was truly a “minor variance,” as it would be more than doubling the height limit for the apartment buildings.
Despite these concerns, council voted to approve the development variance permit for 102 Rockwell Drive. Palmer was in opposition; councillor Michie Vidal left the room during the discussion and vote because she moors her boat at the current Harrison Hot Springs Marina.
Although the development variance permit has been approved, there’s still a long way to go before anything happens on the site. Village staff, council and Kerkhoff Construction will begin discussing the design of the apartment building and marina, to make sure it meets the building code, village requirements and market feasibility.