• Friday , 27 January 2023

New Beach Ave zoning regulations

OCP Future Land Use Designation Map. Map District of Peachland


Joanne Layh

A project to create new zoning regulations for the Beach Ave neighbourhood got underway last week when planning staff presented council with some initial options for their consideration.

Last fall one of the first orders of business of the new council was to direct staff to prepare a report with options for new zoning regulations to address building height and siting regulations for properties that have frontage on Beach Ave and specifically to restrict building height to three storeys and clarify the future use and location of the existing CR1 and CR2 zones.

Building heights on Beach Ave have been contentious in the community going back over a decade and became a prominent issue during the recent election.

In the first stage of the project, planning director Darin Schaal presented council with some options that address the area between 8th St and Todd Rd.

The planning department is expected to return to council on Feb. 7 with a mixed uses bylaw amendment for first, second and third readings. If that passes, the bylaw amendment will be brought back at the Feb. 21 council meeting for adoption and after that the planning department can move on to drafting a bylaw amendment for the core commercial zone, or downtown area, at a later date.

In his initial report to council last week, Schaal proposed changing the existing CR1 and CR2 zoning by adding that  these zones are not intended for properties with frontage on Beach Ave.

He also proposed a couple of options for mixed use properties, including the creation of a new CR3 zone, which could be a shelf-ready mixed use zone available for property owners with frontage on Beach Ave.

A CR3 draft document identifies a minimum parcel area, minimum setbacks, as well as a maximum building height of 12 metres to a maximum of three storeys.

“Twelve metres is the minimum possible that might still work for a mixed use building,” he told council.

A typical mixed-use building would be comprised of some variation of one or two commercial/office storeys and one or two residential storeys, states a report to council, adding that a commercial/office storey should have a floor-to-floor height of 3.65 metres and a residential storey should have a floor-to-floor height of 3.0 metres.

Alternatively, said Schaal, the community could take a more customized approach to each potential development site by creating a comprehensive development (CD) zone that’s crafted specifically for a development site/project.

He cited the Todd’s RV site as an example of a CD zone that was created to meet the needs of a specific property.

He noted that although the crafting of a CD zone consumes more time and resources—particularly at a time when the Planning and Development Services department is focusing its resources on housing and working to streamline approval processes—the significance of the Beach Ave streetscape to the community may still warrant a more customized approach.

He suggested they could also take a hybrid approach of offering both CR3 and CD zoning, as required.

But before they proceed, Schaal cautioned council that there are potential implications of restricting the mixed-use development potential of the Beach Ave neighbourhood, which he noted is fully serviced with existing infrastructure and forms the core of the community.

“Densification in this area should be encouraged as it is more financially sustainable to focus development in core areas,” said Schaal. “The alternative to densification in the Beach Ave core is hillside development and sprawl into rural areas.”

He said over its lifecycle costs the provision of municipal services to hillside/suburban/rural areas does not pay for itself and taxpayers must subsidize these costs, which is not financially prudent.

“When we put excessive restrictions on Beach Avenue, we’re encouraging or directing development into the hillside areas,” said Schaal.

He referenced the City of Kelowna’s Model City Infrastructure tool, which assesses the true costs of its asset management program to inform future land use decisions; its findings, he said, suggest that suburban and hillside units/lots only pay for about 50 per cent of their infrastructure cost and the general principles used there may be extrapolated to inform land use decisions in Peachland.

“Suburban sprawl, rural development, hillside development is revenue negative. The taxpayers pay more for that when we start sprawling into the hinterlands. Development in a downtown area is revenue positive so we generate more revenue when we have more intense dense development in our core area,” said Schaal, who cited the Gateway building as a really good example of a mixed use building.

He noted that previously it was four residential parcels that would currently generate approximately $17,000/year in revenue between parcel taxes and property taxes. As the Gateway, it now has about 20 units and generates approximately $51,000 in municipal revenue each year, and it also houses more people.

He also cautioned that the reduction in building height and potential increased setback requirements decreases the overall buildable area for a project.

Members of Peachland council had a range of responses to the information they were presented.

Coun. Terry Condon said the CR1 zone should be scrapped entirely as it was only created for the purpose of allowing the Residences on 6th to be constructed.

“Our mistake was leaving it on the books after that residence was complete because we left ourselves open to other people seeking similar sorts of concessions,” said Condon.

“I see the tradeoff of Beach Avenue versus the land beside it. To me, if you go too high on Beach Avenue you compromise the land value and development potential of the land behind Beach Avenue and I do think Beach Avenue is so valuable, one way or another in the next years it’s either going to get modest multi-family, if that’s what we’re stipulating, or monster homes in that area north of the community centre,” said Coun. Dave Collins. “To me, the best potential is to keep Beach Avenue modest with varying streetscapes but with more densification behind Beach Avenue. I just think there’s more land available, it works better for transportation, the densification works better and then we kind of satisfy two birds, one stone.”

Collins said he has mixed thoughts about creating a new CR3 zone or creating CD zones.

“When it comes to Beach Avenue, and I see this in other cities, you want to look at corner lots slightly differently than you would infill lots,” said Collins. “Infill lots should be more modest because you don’t want the ‘elephant in the garden’ as we’ve heard it before; but corner lots like the Gateway, if you can get an assembly on a corner, you can get a bit higher because they’re simply not as intrusive.”

“I think we’d be slapping the residents of Peachland in the face if we decided to go the way of financial profit,” said Coun. Keith Thom.

Coun. Rick Ingram said retail needs to be next to retail and concentrated, not willy nilly throughout the whole area.

Coun. Randey Brophy said he’s against a CD zone approach, which he believes will “lead to chaos.”

“I have heard all my colleagues around the table and I am in agreement about a lot of things,” said Mayor Patrick Van Minsel. “The first thing is very clear, that the frontage of Beach Avenue needs to be a certain height.”

Van Minsel also said they need to differentiate between a residential building and a mixed use building and noted that 12 metres for a mixed use building is acceptable.

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