OCP update “may assist in avoiding significant legal expenses”

It might be easier to convince a judge that PeachTree Village isn’t too tall if the District of Peachland rewords the Official Community Plan.

That’s what District staffers are recommending council do at the next regular meeting on Tuesday.

In the section of the OCP that pertains to building height maximums, council has been recommended to change the word “establish” to “encourage,” where it reads “Establish a maximum building height of three storeys between Beach Avenue and Town Lane [Waldo Way].”

The District is facing a legal challenge for approving the five-storey development on a property that, according to the OCP, should not exceed three storeys.

If the amendment is approved, it “may assist in avoiding significant legal expenses associated with a petition submitted to the Supreme Court of British Columbia,” according to the request for decision. 

Friend of Beach Avenue Eric Hall predicted last month that the District would hastily update the OCP before the issue is finally in front of a judge.

He said the recommended amendment is evidence of a system that benefits developers above local residents.

Hall also takes issue with the District report that makes the recommendation. One passage he doubts says public response was generally in favour of rezoning PeachTree.

Also, “The planning report says that this amendment “will clarify the intent of the OCP”; in fact it does no such thing,” he said. “When the Mayor and Council approved PeachTree they stated that the building would “stick out” for a while but other buildings would be developed in the future of the same or similar size. So why does the OCP amendment only apply to one property?”

Hall says the OCP should be applied consistently; he does’t like the idea of privileging a single developer.

“If we are giving PeachTree a special favour, what do the taxpayers of Peachland get in return?”

If the recommendation is adopted, a public hearing will be scheduled shortly thereafter.

He hopes to see enough residents attend the public hearing subsequent to Tuesday’s meeting, where they can voice opposition against five storeys along Beach, so that maybe council will revisit the PeachTree rezoning approval.

For anybody planning on attending Tuesday’s council meeting, the fun starts at 7 p.m.

Read the Friends of Beach Avenue’s response here.


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