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Home-builders denied second basement by White Rock council

A variance which would allow a second basement on a Marine Drive house was denied by council. Above, the site of a home at Cliff Avenue and Kent Street that, in 2012, sparked the debate that led to changes in the city
A variance which would allow a second basement on a Marine Drive house was denied by council. Above, the site of a home at Cliff Avenue and Kent Street that, in 2012, sparked the debate that led to changes in the city's rules.
— image credit: File photo

A request to vary rules that prohibit second basements in new single-family homes in White Rock has been sent back to the drawing board.

Council voted unanimously last week to deny a variance sought for 14205 Marine Dr., where proponents have designs on a home with two basements.

“In all respects, this house far exceeds the guidelines,” Coun. Louise Hutchinson said.

When first brought to the city last August, the plan for the second basement was to provide room for a four-car garage, a combined entry/recreation room, and an indoor pool and exercise area.

Under current zoning, however, the RS-1 one-unit residential lot is only allowed one basement.

That rule came into effect last year, following concerns with the construction of a four-storey, 14,000-sq.-ft. single-family home at Cliff Avenue and Kent Street. Guidelines in effect then enabled proponents to build two levels below-grade.

Applicants behind the Marine Drive proposal were asked to remove a fourth floor and address steepness of the lot’s driveway. The revised plans reduced the size of the second basement by about 1,100 sq.-ft. (to 2,316.2 sq.ft.) and removed the pool/exercise area.

They also included additional features such as a front courtyard with extra parkings.

City staff supported the revisions and recommended council consider moving it forward.

But in a public meeting held immediately prior to the March 31 council meeting, two residents opposed the variance.

Margaret Woods, a former city councillor, said her concern is the amount of livable space the finished home will have that won’t be taxed. At the mayor’s request, financial services director Sandra Kurylo clarified that property taxes are based on assessed value multiplied by the city’s tax rate.

Woods was also concerned that council might relax its stance on second basements.

Ken Jones, also a former politician, said he was “very concerned” the variance would set a precedence.

The applicant will be asked to come back with plans that don’t include a second basement.

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