Building variance granted on Fifteenth Street

Accessory building exceeds maximum height, error of District of Houston staff.

At the Oct. 17, 2017 District of Houston council meeting, Houston council was notified by staff that a board of variance order has been granted to vary the size regulations contained within the Development Bylaw for an accessory building on 3510 15th Street.

In July 2017, Houston Today reported on a District of Houston error that called for a development variance on 3510 15th Street, where in October 2016 a building application to construct a garage was approved, and then on June 2017 a stop work order was issued because it was determined that the building was not in compliance with the District of Houston Development Bylaw.

The maximum building height for an accessory building in R1 and R2 zones is 5.1 meters, but the building application height indicated a length of 6.17 meters.

“The error is not that of the homeowner as the documents which were submitted by them clearly denote the height, from which they built the structure. This is clearly and oversight by staff,” said Michael Glavin, Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Houston.

At the July 2017 council meeting the variance of allowing a height of 6.17 metres was defeated by three counsellors, counsellors Jonathan Van Barneveld, John Siebenga, and Tim Anderson to two counsellors, Rick Lundrigan and Dennis Tait.

The District of Houston believed that the appeal should be denied based on the district’s position that any financial hardship faced by the appellants could be remedied through a claim against the district, and therefore does not constitute a hardship the Board of Variance may address at common law.

In a special open meeting on Sept. 29, 2017 two written submissions were received, one from BC Building Corporation and the other from Joey and Rose Longpre. It reported that neither property owner had concerns with the proposed variance.

“The Longpre’s letter had asserted that the appellants were excellent neighbours and have generally improved the neighbourhood,” stated the minutes of the meeting.

According to the September minutes, Burt Watson, Houston resident, was in attendance and stated that “he shared the sentiments expressed by the Longpre’s, and that he had no problem with the size of the accessory building. He noted that the only effect would be on property on the right side of the building which faced the back of a shop.”

Charolette Boyes, owner of the property, said that, “she did not understand the district’s position regarding the financial hardship, she noted that the Chief Administrative Officer had noted that this was a result of an employee error, that they had followed the rules and procedures which were in place, and that the building inspector had not said anything to them.”

Decision of the Board of Variance was to order that a minor variance of a height of 6.17 metres for the accessory building on Fifteenth Street be permitted.

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