A Rossland developer who wanted to build a high-density seniors housing complex on the former Cook Avenue school site is accusing the city of a double standard after it approved a large residential project at Red Mountain.
But council says some of Cezary Ksiazek’s comparisons are “apples to rollerskates.”
In a presentation last week Ksiazek laid out a litany of complaints, expressing bafflement that his 40-unit seniors development was denied rezoning because council considered it too big while the 97-unit Red Mountain Resort Micro Flats development got the go ahead.
“So 40 units is too big but 97 units is OK?” he asked.
Ksiazek also criticized the midtown mixed-use project, which will see a new city hall built along with 37 rental units on the former Emcon site.
He said it should have gone to referendum and couldn’t understand why that project will be four storeys high when he was told his own proposal with the same number of storeys exceeded height restrictions.
“Maybe the city is using a different tape measure for these two buildings?”
Mayor Kathy Moore told Ksiazek his presentation contained “a lot of misstatements of facts and a lot of apples and oranges, so it’s hard to parse it all.” At her request, Ksiazek provided his submission to council in writing.
In their response, provided to the Rossland News, they wrote that the Micro Flats project received its development permit because the building plan met all land use and zoning requirements. The only question for council was whether it met design guidelines.
“[I]f a proposal fits into the existing zoning and plans, and form and character guidelines, it is approved,” they wrote. “Development at the Red base area is zoned for higher densities and height in the area adjacent to the lifts, and has been for many years.”
The Micro Flats development will be in the existing parking area at Red, near the entrance to the Josie Hotel, and also include a mix of office space, guest amenities, and a cafe.
Ksiazek’s proposed building did not meet the current zoning, which calls for a maximum of 12 units, or multi-family zoning, which has a maximum of 24. It also had much greater lot coverage than what is normally allowed. Council said the building would be 3.5 metres higher than the zoning allows, regardless of the number of storeys.
The midtown project, they added, is on land formerly zoned for light industrial rather than single family residential, and is bordered by the skate park, arena, and the school.
Ksiazek also suggested there is a great demand in Rossland for seniors housing, evidenced by the waiting list at Esling Park Lodge. But council called this an “apples to roller skates comparison,” because Esling Park is a seniors rental building, whereas Ksiazek’s proposal would be a private, stratified development sold at market rates.
“Council would like to approve a plan that meets the city’s and neighbourhood’s guidelines and regulations,” they wrote, noting that Ksiazek did not amend his proposal before it came to council despite input from the planning department.
Ksiazek had further beefs around parking, traffic, and snow removal — areas where he felt his project was superior to the other two — but council also rebutted those points.
Updated on Sept. 12 to add comments from council’s response.