The Brandon and Area Planning District voted 4-1 against the proposed development of seven condo units plus a single family lot by Jon Hooker and Caddy Lake Investments.
A proposed condominium project on the southwest corner of 18th Street and Braecrest Drive was not granted rezoning and variance approval at Wednesday’s City of Brandon Planning Commission meeting.
Developer Jon Hooker waits in a packed audience gallery in city council chambers during a planning commission meeting on Wednesday evening. (COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN)
The planning district voted 4-1 against the proposed development of seven condo units plus a single family lot by Jon Hooker and Caddy Lake Investments after the vast majority of the 50 people attending the hearing spoke against the idea.
"To sum it up, this is a ridiculous idea," said Maureen Munroe, an area resident. "It’s a great place to live. We just don’t want you to bugger it up."
Hooker was disappointed that his project, valued at between $2 million and $3 million, will not likely go ahead if he can’t get city council approval for the rezoning of the land and variance.
"We can build this project with existing infrastructure at no cost to the city, add seven new taxpayers to the city and it would not affect the neighbourhood in any way. I hired a traffic expert to do the study and they don’t accept the expert’s opinion. That’s a little upsetting."
Hooker then cited a traffic survey that was verified by the city’s engineers that showed traffic impacts would be minimal.
That didn’t satisfy area residents, who said en masse that Braecrest Drive was too narrow to handle additional traffic and that there were already bottlenecks when traffic on Braecrest Drive tried to get onto 18th Street during peak times.
Sandy Trudel, the city’s economic director, also spoke out in favour of the project, noting that any new development takes pressure off the increasing demand for housing in the city.
She added the fact this was being considered for an area near a ravine made it a challenging development, but it was desirable.
"We need to keep in mind density and land use and both of those objectives are met in this project," Trudel said.
However, Brent Munroe, a 15-year resident of the area, said the potential negative impacts on the watershed and the natural spring that runs underground on the North Hill should be factored in to any development of the area.
He said that the springs become unpredictable when development takes place and can cause problems.
"Erosion is a major problem, especially on a hillside with such a pitch," Munroe said.
"That characteristic is all along the valley wall."
Brandon lawyer Chuck Meighen, representing a few of the area residents, also spoke out against the project.
"The planning department has determined this to be a corner site, but it’s the same as a centre lot and does not have the flexibility that corner lots have," Meighen said.
"The area to the west of 18th Street is somewhat unique to Brandon in that is all single family dwellings that has a rural setting, narrow roads, no curbs, no sidewalks and no shoulders. …These are characteristics that are the reasons people are drawn there."
Meighen then noted community support is one of the parameters the planning commission must consider when reviewing an application.
He turned to the gallery and asked the 50 people to stand if they opposed the project.
All but about five of the gallery members stood on command.
The planning commission voted only to recommend that the project not proceed.
Brandon City Council could overturn that with a vote of its own at a future council meeting.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 5, 2012