Council approved issuing a development variance permit for a four-storey apartment building at 107 Rollie Rose Drive.
The development permit variance will allow the building to increase from 10 meters in height to 14.9 meters. The variance also allows parking to be reduced to 1.5 parking spots for two bedroom units, down from two parking spots — this reduces the total of spaces from 178 to 153.
Once completed, the building will be an ‘L’ shaped 96-unit apartment building, with stepping of the foundation to match the existing grade. An accessory storage building, picnic shelter, garbage and recycling building are also proposed.
Westmark Construction is the development company behind the apartment building. The company has built and developed for 30 years in the Mid-Island area. Over the past 15 years, they have completed three subdivisons and 20 homes in the Town of Ladysmith.
The applicant’s rationale for the increase in height and reduced parking is based on achieving minimal site disturbance by reducing the footprint of the development. Under the proposed design, only about 50 percent of the subject property would be developed; the remainder would be the Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area (SPEA).
Currently, the property is covered with mature second growth forest, and a regenerating riparian area, which is approximately 20 to 80 years old. The property is bounded on the west by a BC Hydro corridor, on the north is the Holland Creek trail network, and to the south is single detached housing along Rollie Rose Drive. There are two unnamed tributaries which run through the property and converge near the middle of the property, draining into Holland Creek.
Through the development variance permit process, the Town received five submissions from the public regarding the proposed height and parking variances, one of which was signed by 33 people. Each of the submissions was opposed to the development.
The public expressed concerns about increased noise, decreased privacy for neighbouring homes, overflow of parking onto Rollie Rose Drive, and concerns that the parcel is not large enough for the proposed density.
Town staff found that there would be no increase in noise level beyond what would otherwise be expected from a shorter apartment building. They also found that the proposed building is situated approximately 37 meters from the rear parcel lines of the nearest single-family parcels; the area in between consists of vegetated SPEA with trees averaging 36 meters in height, which would prevent overlook from apartment balconies.
On the issue of parking, property owner and developer Chris Lundy, who spoke to council on behalf of the development, said that the proposed parking spaces would be sufficient for building residents.
“We have on-site managers, and we only assign the number of parking stalls that we have to the total number of residents in the building. We are encouraging people to use green transportation — electric bikes, electric vehicles. We have charging stations in the bike room, and we’ll also have charging stations in the parking lot for vehicles. We’re trying to reduce the overall impact of vehicles.”
Lundy also said that in similar developments he’s worked on in the past, there has never been a situation where resident demand exceeded the number of available parking spaces.
Existing parking issues on Rollie Rose Drive were outlined in public feedback on the project proposal. One letter noted that cars parked along Rollie Rose Drive have made it difficult for vehicles to navigate the road.
Council added a motion that ‘no parking’ signs be added to Rollie Rose Drive from Dogwood Drive to Kinsmen Place at the developer’s expense.
A condition of the development variance permit is that Westmark must set aside $5,000 to be used in the event of damage to the SPEA resulting from a contravention to the development permit. They must also set aside $180,547 in the event that conditions respecting landscaping are not satisfied.