The construction of a foundation on a Kirkcaldy Drive house has raised the ire of a eighbour or two because city regulations allowed for a building that doesn’t match the aesthetics of the neighbourhood.
Marion Goldstone said she opposed her neighbour’s construction of a steel building, not because she disliked her neighbours, but because the building she believes is being built aesthetically belongs more in a rural setting than a middle class urban neighbourhood. She added that there should be regulations and bylaws preventing construction that does not aesthetically match the rest of the neighbourhood.
“My neighbours are fine people,” Goldstone said. “My point here is what they are apparently building, and it’s under construction right now, is building a fairly large garage and it’s one of these buildings … you see on TV that’s a steel building. It’s not a steel building like the ones Crane puts up that has colour on it or a finish, but is galvanized steel. They have it piled up in the driveway … and it looks very much like a rural material.”
The situation is similar to one that took place just down the road at the corner of Fraser Crescent and Kirkcaldy Drive, where a house with an unusual design was opposed by area residents because they believed the unique design of the house didn’t fit in with the rest of the neighbourhood. Ultimately, there was little the city could do to stop construction as the plans met existing building codes and regulations and there were no caveats or covenants barring the construction of that type of building, said Andrew Mok, one of Brandon’s community planners.
There is a plan for the Downtown Hub area, which takes into account the heritage structures and restricts development plans so that the area’s overall appearance remains intact. However, in general, zoning bylaws and contracts signed with and enforced by private developers are the normal methods used to ensure neighbourhoods have a uniform appearance and not all neighbourhoods have those rules in place.
The rules exist in the Downtown Hub because there was a plan approved by city council and the downtown area is recognized as distinct and more unique than other parts of the city, Mok said.
“You may hear in real estate circles about restrictive covenants, and those are agreements where a developer or previous property owner will sell a property and they put in clauses where the purchaser can or can not do something on a property beyond what the zoning bylaw or city regulations call for,” Mok said.
“If a developer wants to have a neighbourhood look a certain way, they may have further controls in their own private agreements saying how the neighbourhood can be built.”
That’s not the case on Kasiurak Bay or Kirkcaldy Drive, so when the property owner submitted his plans to the city to get a building permit, the only considerations were whether the building met existing codes, whether a variance was needed and whether the plan was in compliance with zoning and other appropriate bylaws.
“There was a building permit that was applied for and the building and safety departments reviewed it,” Mok said. “It met all of the rules that had to be met and there were no design regulations or policies that came into play. So on that basis, by law, we have to say yes, here’s your permit, there you go. For building permits, it’s an administrative process. If there was a plan that didn’t meet the rules and they wanted to apply to modify the rules through a variance or a conditional use approval, then the application process opens to the public and they can speak to it.”
Not all residents object to the construction going on in the neighbourhood on the north bank of the Assiniboine River.
“It’s across the way from me and sure I know one neighbour is really upset and saying the property values are going down, but really? Is it?” said Allan Heise, a Kasiurak Bay resident. “I can’t see that. I don’t want to jump up and down about this. What is there to complain about? Someone’s put up a shed. Big deal.”
Heise added that he’s not even sure what his neighbour is building on his property and has never asked him about it.
“Some of the neighbours say it’s going to be a metal shed but I don’t know,” Heise said. “Sure there’s metal in the yard, but everyone’s assuming. … There’s another property in the bay where the grass isn’t cut and a building is deteriorating. To me, that’s far worse than what’s going on there.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 22, 2012