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White Rock offers 'a simpler solution’ for monster houses

A 14,000-square-foot home is under construction on this lot, located at the corner of Cliff Avenue and Kent Street in White Rock. Below: city planner Connie Halbert addresses council Nov. 19; Mayor Wayne Baldwin addresses residents during a Nov. 13 public information meeting. - File photos
A 14,000-square-foot home is under construction on this lot, located at the corner of Cliff Avenue and Kent Street in White Rock. Below: city planner Connie Halbert addresses council Nov. 19; Mayor Wayne Baldwin addresses residents during a Nov. 13 public information meeting.
— image credit: File photos

Amendments aimed at preventing more monster-size homes from being built in White Rock received preliminary approval from city council this week.

But the changes that next go to public hearing are not those that raised concerns of residents last week.

Council instead supported “a simpler solution” recommended by staff after residents spoke out – limiting the number of basements that single-family homes may have.

Connie Halbert“Everybody at that meeting was very supportive of limiting the size of houses in the RS-1 zone,” city planner Connie Halbert told council members Monday at a land-use committee meeting before the council vote.

“What was interesting was nobody supported… the proposed amendments.”

At a Nov. 13 public information meeting, Halbert and other city staff detailed suggestions for single-family zoning that included adjusting the calculation of maximum gross floor area to include limiting the permitted floor area of a home’s second storey to 80 per cent of its first floor; and ensuring that the floor area of daylighted basements is included in lot-coverage calculations.

The latter was contentious because it effectively prohibited walk-out basements.

It was suggested after a builder in White Rock excavated to his lot’s property lines in order “to daylight” two levels of basement that are being built below the site’s natural grade – a step that removes those levels from gross floor-area calculations. Once complete, the house – at the corner of Cliff Avenue and Kent Street – will be 14,000 square feet.

A staff report notes the house “created much public concern about excessively large homes, especially from the surrounding neighbours.”

But, as everything was done by the book, city officials had to allow the project to proceed. At the same time, they put efforts to prevent similar projects from coming forward into high gear.

The changes are being fast-tracked in advance of a new zoning bylaw that is anticipated to come forward early next year, which will likely include further RS-1 revisions.

In a report to the land-use committee, acting director of planning Richard Wilson said limiting the number of basements to one is “the simplest (change) to implement and has the least impact on future building-permit applications."

Nov. 13 public meeting

The suggestion was one of five put forward by attendees of the Nov. 13 meeting.

Council also supported a recommendation to limit the second storey of a building to 80 per cent of its main level.

 

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