A Brookwood-area condominium development was given the green light by Brandon City Council after a lengthy series of debates and public hearings on Monday night.
The 24-unit condo complex, to be located southwest of the traffic circle at the corner of 34th Street and Richmond Avenue, needed a variance to reduce setbacks, or the amount of land between buildings and the road or fence line on the east side of the property, from 7.6 metres to 1.2. Other setback reductions included the west boundary, where it was reduced from 7.6 metres to three metres, and the front yard setback was cut to 2.7 metres from six metres at 1660 34th St. The land was also rezoned to residential low density, which meant that the developers could have requested a plan to build 60 units rather than the 24 they plan to construct, said Steve McMillan, a VBJ Developments vice-president.
"It was a long process and I believe we put the best interests of the residents of Brookwood to heart," McMillan said. "First there were issues that were still apparent, but all in all, we’ve got something that blends in with the area and will enhance the area. We are pleased it was approved."
Sandy Bonar, a resident near the proposed development off Plateau Drive, spoke out against the project, calling it a "size 10 foot fitting into a size 8 shoe." She compared the situation to a development in the southeast corner of the city.
"Most notably, there are streets that are too narrow to accommodate the volume of traffic," Bonar said.
"Testimony from a sampling of residents there tells us that because there are no sidewalks, or curbing, it’s not only frustrating to drive there but walking there is dangerous. Please note there is sufficient setbacks on these streets with parking in driveways but residents and visitors still park on the edge of the road and that creates even narrower passageways on these inadequate roads."
McMillan questioned those who opposed the development plan for houses too close together when the separation between condo buildings is three metres and some single-detached houses in the same neighbourhood are 2.3 metres apart.
The variances requested by VBJ Developments were approved by a 7-4 margin, with Mayor Shari Decter Hirst and Coun. Corey Roberts (Rosser), Coun. Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes) and Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres) opposing the measure.
The decision makers then moved on to debating whether to rezone the land from development reserve to residential low density, and after a lengthy debate and public hearing, that measure was passed by an 11-0 margin.
Berry said that he opposed the variances because he believed they were too drastic and he had heard complaints from residents of Plateau Drive and Rainbow Bay.
"As much as nobody was really opposed to the condo development, the big concerns were over the variances and how it would affect the esthetics of the neighbourhood," Berry said. "After listening to the developer and the neighbourhood, I felt (the neighbourhood) maybe had a point and maybe we are putting too many units in a small area. A lot of that had to do with the way the variances were clawed back."
McMillan noted during a question-and-answer session that had the land been rezoned residential medium density, there could have been as many as 120 units on that parcel of land, and said the 24 units the development firm had asked for was a reasonable amount.