Ladysmith council has taken an unusual step in order to ensure a proposed development in the South Davis Road area stays small.
In March, the town rejected a proposal for a 25-unit townhouse development at 606 Farrell Road by reconfirming a development covenant limiting the property to 15 units.
After an April 27 public hearing, council voted to strengthen its position by a site-specific zoning amendment that specifically limits development to 15 units, including the three already on site.
The move means developers will have to apply for formal rezoning in order to challenge that limit — a more difficult and expensive process than the current development permit process.
According to Mayor Aaron Stone, council felt the move was necessary to reinforce the intent of a 2005 rezoning that allowed multi-family on the property in the first place.
“The main focus is the covenant on the property wasn’t as tight as it should have been,” Stone said.
The move was welcomed by a number of neighbours, who have packed meeting halls for a recent sessions regarding the development.
“Council, they acted,” Jane Vincent, a resident of one of the existing homes on the property, said. “They did what they had to do.”
606 Farrell Road is a long, narrow, wooded strip sandwiched in between the Gales complex and the large new single-family homes on Stirling Drive at the extreme south end of the South Davis Road area. The 2005 rezoning permitted multi-family development, but with a covenant that development be restricted to 15 units.
Area residents said they bought property based on that covenant and they did not want to see the character of the neighbourhood changed. Concerns about emergency vehicle access, water runoff and loss of greenery were among their issues with the 25-home proposal.
They were also upset by tree-cutting that happened on-site the morning of the public hearing. There is no bylaw governing tree-cutting in Ladysmith, however Councillor Carol Henderson is introducing discussion on requiring tree cutting permits in areas subject to flooding, erosion or land slip.
At this point, the property owner can submit a revised development permit for building up to 12 new homes as permitted under the current zoning, or he can apply for a rezoning.
Developer Gary Schofield of Natura Developments could not be reached for comment.