Harrison Hot Springs council has voted unanimously in favour of amending its Official Community Plan and rezoning the land across from the Village office. The vote, from which Councillor Zoltan Kiss was absent, could allow the property’s owner to develop townhouses.
The land is owned by Kingma Bros. Developments, who bought it about hree years ago as part of a larger parcel. The company announced shortly after that they would like to build townhouses in that spot, and the issue has been moving slowly through council ever since.
There has been both support and a loud outcry from the public over the townhouse project, which as proposed will 26-units built between the Miami Slough and Hot Springs Road, directly across from the Village. Complaints run the gamut from increased local traffic to the loss of resource land (which the land was previously zoned).
The developer has been meeting demands as set out by the current and previous council and mayor, including traffic studies and environmental assessments.
“The next step will be the development permit process,” Mayor Leo Facio said following the meeting.
He doesn’t share the worries brought to council during a public hearing, saying that all concerns have been dealt with already.
That includes having the developer reduce the number of units in the four-acre strip from 50 to 26.
“All the environmental issues have been addressed and it appears to meet the OCP,” Facio said. “Traffic we didn’t consider to be a problem.”
He referred to a presentation made by Councillor Sonja Reyerse, in support of the amendment. Reyerse has provided the Observer with that presentation.
“I have spent some time considering this rezoning amendment and reflecting on the comments made during the public hearing,” she stated. “While I don’t know and have never met Mr. Kingma it seems to me that there is a general dislike and bias against him and his proposals for reasons that seem more personal than objective. In reviewing this application I have focused on the facts and ignored the personalities.”
She said she believes the property “is not and has never been designated a park,” contrary to statements made in the public hearing.
But the real issue is whether the land should be rezoned to medium density, she added.
“We have sufficient property that is suitable for low density residential but very little that would accommodate medium density only,” she said. “Currently Harrison has a limited inventory of town homes of this nature and I believe there would be a healthy demand for this type of property by those looking for a recreational type property as well as young couples and families looking for a lower cost alternative to a single family dwelling.”
Some opponents to the townhouse project stated that having houses at the entrance to the Village instead of a fully forested area would give a bad impression to visitors.
Reyerse believes the opposite.
“My opinion is that this development would have a positive impact on our overall development image providing a well treed, attractive, medium density residential property that would have an appealing visual impact to residents and visitors alike,” she stated.