Work to construct a large, $2-million home at the corner of Cliff Avenue and Kent Street in White Rock has neighbours “a little horrified.”
But despite concerns, the developer has done everything by the books.
“Other than the fact that their timing was poor for their excavation… everything’s above-board,” said city director of planning Paul Stanton, referring to excavation that took place during recent heavy rains, potentially jeopardizing stability of the pit.
Stanton said he has received several complaints regarding the development.
“Neighbours are up in arms over the size of the house, but staff has an obligation to issue the (building) permit if it meets the requirements.
“They pushed the envelope as far as they could push it to build the maximum that they could build.”
A four-storey, approximately 14,000-square-foot single-family home is destined for the lot, which is zoned RS-1. The bylaw restricts lot coverage by the principal building to 45 per cent, and height to 7.7 metres.
Stanton said the developer kept within the guidelines by designing the house to be built with two levels below-grade. Anything two feet below the lot’s average natural grade is not factored into lot-coverage calculations.
“They’ve gone two levels of basement and they’ve excavated right to the property line so they can daylight the basement, which is highly unusual,” he said. “That’s not something we can regulate in the zoning bylaw.”
One neighbour told Peace Arch News that comments he’s heard regarding the development have evolved from concern to anger. It will change the character of the neighbourhood, he said.
Coun. Al Campbell said that while area residents haven’t called him directly with concerns, emails have been received by the mayor and council en masse.
Neighbours are “a little astonished, a little horrified,” Campbell said.
Campbell described the extent of house that is to be built underground as “very unique and very unusual,” and said he was surprised the excavation effort didn’t include some sort of support.
(Stanton confirmed Monday the developer is working with a geotechnical engineer regarding shoring for the excavation. Attempts by PAN to speak to the owner have been unsuccessful.)
Designs, Campbell said, show the finished house surrounded by concrete courtyards, and a rec room situated under a six-car garage.
“When it’s finished, it’ll be very beautiful,” he said.
Campbell said he does not believe the structure will set a precedent for an influx of similar developments.
“I can only imagine what this house is going to cost. Very few people are going to come and spend that sort of money,” Campbell said.
He said that while he doesn’t particularly want to see more lots developed in the same way – and noted opportunities to do so in White Rock are limited – neighbours of this project won’t have any greater obstruction than they would have had if a standard single-family home was being built.
“It’s not higher, it’s no bigger offsets. There’s no variances here at all,” Campbell said.
Stanton said an ongoing review of the zoning bylaw that is expected to result in a new bylaw by the end of the year will look at options “of how to reduce houses of that size” in the future.
Until then, “the legislation’s very clear.”
“If they meet the B.C. Building Code requirements and they meet the city’s zoning bylaw and other criteria, we have an obligation – we have to issue the permit.”