The city will engage residents of a North Delta neighbourhood to see what kind of new zoning they prefer to protect their views.
Council this week voted in favour of a staff recommendation to begin the consultation process in the Royal York Neighborhood as well as complete detailed studies.
The goal is to assess the level of interest in reducing current allowable building heights in the area.
Saying current residents should take precedence over absentee landlords and developers, homeowners in the neighbourhood raised alarm over a pair of proposed single-family housing developments, submitting a petition to Delta.
In a presentation to council this summer, Davie Way homeowner Tracy Ramlu and Garfield Drive homeowner Ken Robertson said their views would be blocked out by the large new structures that don’t conform to the neighbourhood.
“We ask the Delta planning department and city council to stop these proposed developments and only consider the development of properties in our neighbourhood that comply with the 2011 policy and respect the views and character of the current homes in our neighbourhood,” their presentation stated.
Robertson said a house resembling a “mini apartment building” would block out his mountain view and asked for a process to look at the current zoning.
Ramlu noted one of the new houses would block out her view from the terraced streets, which had been originally designed so that such a thing didn’t occur.
She said a new house that was allowed to be built a decade earlier did just that for her southwest view of the ocean.
She also noted a few years ago the homeowners got together to discuss their zoning concerns but the residents couldn’t come up with a consensus, so asked that the city keep the existing, more restrictive land use contracts for the properties in question for now and not discharge them.
Ramlu, saying it’s critical that new housing improve neighbourhoods and not lessen them, asked for the city to have a revised zoning in place before land use contracts in Delta expire in 2024.
Mostly created in the 1970s, land use contracts were signed at the time of a property's original subdivision and outlined various development guidelines at the time.
Delta no longer uses such contracts, but there’s still a large batch of homes with legally binding land use contracts registered on title.
Delta has been updating its zoning bylaws over the years but those old land use contracts supersede them, regardless of whether the contracts conform to new zoning standards.
There’s well over 3,000 of the old contracts still on file for residential properties.
The contracts vary from neighborhood to neighborhood with some more restrictive than current zoning, while others are far more generous than zoning of today allows.
Delta council in 2017 decided to take advantage of new provisions under the Local Government Act that allows cities to expire all old contracts by 2024.
Community planning director Marcy Sangret told the Optimist this summer the applications in Royal York would not comply with aspects of the Land Use Contract registered on their properties.
While Land Use Contracts override current underlying zoning, in the case of the Garfield Drive applications, those Land Use Contracts are more permissive in terms of setbacks, floor area and site coverage but are more restrictive for building height when compared to the underlying single-detached residential zone.