by EVAN MATTHEWS
Select properties on Valemount’s 5th Avenue have been rezoned for indefinite residential use — but make no mistake — the area is still zoned for commercial use.
Just following its May. 23 meeting, Council held a public hearing before giving third reading to the zoning bylaw’s changes. The bylaw changes amend the area’s “C1 designation,” meaning the Village will allow property owners with existing homes “indefinite residential use,” with no obligation or pressure to ever own a business.
The affected properties sit between Ash and Cedar Street.
“These properties will be permitted to continue residential use until such time there is commercial use on the subject property for a period of six or more consecutive months,” said the Village’s Corporate Services Clerk Carleena Shepherd.
There are instances of commercial businesses with a residential space in the same building, such as Home Hardware.
“Residential use can’t outweigh commercial use in commercial zones… We’re going to see similar (changes) around the Village in the near future with the infusion of more interests,” — Gord Simmons, Village’s subdivision approving officer
Council’s rationale for re-evaluating 5th Avenue Zoning involved a resident who expressed concern over the (potential) loss of their home due to a fire, and not being able to re-build because of commercial zoning, according to Councillor Peter Reimer.
Reimer says Council has addressed the issue, in that if a person has owned a residence on one of the properties, they can continue to live in the commercially zoned space as long as they’d like.
Local business owner Joseph Nusse owns one of the affected properties, and expressed concern regarding residential use taking precedent over commercial development in the future.
Nusse says within five years he intends to construct a bigger commercial building on the property, with residential space above.
“I have absolutely no issue being surrounded by residential neighbours,” says Nusse.
“However, I want it clarified that these changes come only with the explicit understanding that concerns of a residential nature will in no way affect — or even delay consideration — for development of a commercial building,” he says.
Nusse listed potential concerns from neighbours including the height of the building, (tree) falling within pre-existing commercial guidelines, ease of parking due to increased traffic, and noise.
The Village’s Subdivision Approving Officer Gord Simmons responded to Nusse, saying, “It’s commercially zoned property already. The residential use is secondary.
“Residential use can’t outweigh commercial use in commercial zones… We’re going to see similar (changes) around the Village in the near future with the infusion of more interests,” he said, making note of undeveloped commercially zoned areas.
Simmons said even a new Council would have to support commercial development in a commercial zone — such as Nusse’s property — unless they changed the zoning all together through public process.
“I would suggest that may allay some of Mr. Nusse’s concerns,” said Simmons. “It’s what it’s zoned for.”
Council gave the third reading to the proposed zoning changes and closed the public hearing.