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Delta council votes against staff recommendation on rezoning

The applicant is seeking to build homes adequate for multi-generational family members
Mayor George Harvie at council's meeting this week noted it's up the council to make the final decision on a redevelopment.

Delta council this week agreed to vote against a recommendation by planning staff to deny an application to rezone and subdivide a Ladner corner lot to build two new houses, instead agreeing to direct staff to work with the applicant and bring back the application for a Comprehensive Development Zone.

The application, originally submitted three years ago, for the property at 5055 Whitworth Crescent North would see the 19,375-square-foot property, which currently has one older house to be demolished, split into two single-detached residential lots.

One of the new lots would have a 5,495-square foot house with a suite, while the other would have a 4,193-square-foot house with a suite as well.

A letter to council from the applicant's architect notes that, from the beginning, the motivation for the subdivision application was to allow for an extended family to stay together and age in place. Explaining how the proposal would comply with the zoning, the letter also states, "If approved, the ultimate size of home would be adequate to house the owner, and their growing family, as well as provide dignified housing for their aging parents, who could be potentially accommodated in an above grade suite."

The zoning of the site was Single Detached Residential 1 (RS1), intended for single-detached housing in lower density residential areas. The application would have seen the site rezoned to RS7. 

A Delta staff report notes that, typically, when a property owner is interested in subdividing a large lot, they work with staff to determine which of the RS zones would be the best fit.

The report notes due to the incompatibility of the proposed dwelling sizes with the surrounding residential neighbourhood, the application should be denied and that the applicant bring a revised proposal for the redevelopment of the site.

The proposed house sizes would far exceed the new maximum of 2,691-square-feet permitted under the RS7 Zone. As there are no existing zones that would permit the requested floor area, the proposed houses could only be permitted through a customized Comprehensive Development (CD) zone., the report explains.

Staff recommended the owner apply for an RS5 Zone with more consistent massing to the surrounding neighbourhood.

“Staff feel that the proposal would set an unwanted precedent of allowing very large houses on small lots that are inconsistent with the neighbourhood context. Concerns over the large house sizes were identified early in the project review by both staff and the public during the community consultation,” the report adds.

The planning department also notes that the site under the new Official Community Plan (OCP) is Small Scale Residential (SSR), a designation that includes the lowest density ground-oriented housing forms and intended to provide gentle density housing options. The application was inconsistent with that designation.