Local resident Eric Brown asked council why it was rushing the project through (Photo: John Boivin)

Rossland council approves Pinewood housing project

Developer gets OK for multi-family housing, despite local opposition

A Cranbrook-based developer has cleared the first hurdle for his plan to build three six-unit condos in Rossland’s Pinewood neighbourhood.

Rossland city council approved Keefer Ecological Holdings’s application to rezone two parcels of land at the end of Cedar Crescent at its last meeting on Oct. 9.

Council made the 5-2 decision despite objections raised by nearly 20 presenters and as many written submissions.

Concerns ranged from increased traffic, snow removal and the density of the project, to invasions of privacy and the speed of the approval process.

“I don’t understand the rush, the overall concern of community is this should be given more thought,” said one man. “It shouldn’t be this council who makes the decision.”

“There’s going to be a new council, why can’t it be revisited with people in that position?” said another resident, referring to the upcoming municipal election.”They’ll be looking at the OCP (Official Community Plan) then. Why not look at it, then decide on this project?”

Councillors said it was one of the biggest turnouts for a development proposal they had seen in years. But Mayor Kathy Moore warned the crowd the decision would not be based on a “popularity contest.”

“It doesn’t matter how many people are for it, how many against it,” she says. “We look at the projects based on the merits.”

Council also rejected the idea of delaying the decision, saying it wouldn’t be right to punt a controversial decision until after the election.

In the end, council approved rezoning the property from R-1, which is for single-family development, to a CD-7 zoning, a site-specific zoning that modifies R-3 zoning for the project.

The Comprehensive Development-7 (CD-7) zoning will allow for up to 18 units in a maximum of six buildings. The zoning calls for a two-metre setback except where it abuts an R-1 property, in which case there’s a 10-metre setback.

There’s also a requirement for a three-metre landscape buffer around parking areas. The applicant is also required to work with the city to design and build trails on the property, dedicate areas for parkland, build an alternative fire access route via the Happy Valley Road, and work with the city and provincial engineers to improve road, water and sewer systems.

“I’m very pleasantly surprised,” said developer Mike Keefer after council approved the project. “I felt the idea should get approved readily, then something of a campaign came up to stop it, which was well-organized and had some good thoughts,” he told the Rossland News.

“But we made revisions based on those concerns, which we showed council, which I think showed diligence on my part.”

Keefer said he wanted residents to know he has heard their concerns.

“My message is I am a professional who listens and accommodates where practical,” he said. “They may not like the decision, but the people who were elected to make the decision made it, and we will find a way to make this a positive legacy. So five years from now you can say we took on a different kind of housing that provided a lower carbon footprint, better sustainability, and park land. “

It’s not the end of public input. With re-zoning complete, Keefer now has to draw up his specific plans for the property that comply with council’s restrictions, and apply for development and subdivision permits. Approving those will be a job for the next city council, which will be voted in on Oct. 20.

Keefer has said he’d like to get construction started in the spring, with the first occupants moving in next fall.

 

Council said it didn’t want to punt the controversial project over to the next council. (Photo: John Boivin)

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