Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Residents win battle over zoning change

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 08/04) - City council nixed a re-zoning proposal Monday, after residents living near a Bartesko Court apartment building showed up en masse to protest.

Patrick Smith told council Monday that he can't trust the developer of an apartment block at nearby Bartesko Court. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photo

Numac Development Corporation, headed by Tony Chang, wanted to add an additional 10 -- later dropped to six -- inexpensive, single-family units onto the property. But residents living in the largely middle-class neighbourhood of trailers told council the proposal was unacceptable.

They said the added units would decrease the property values of adjacent homes and make the neighbourhood unsafe because the traffic volume would increase.

The proposed site is currently unoccupied, other than by a small grove of trees. Residents said nearby streets are already crammed with vehicles belonging to apartment dwellers because there is not enough room to park on the lot.

The apartment block has been a contentious issue ever since council re-zoned the lot from one-family residential to medium density in 1997 to allow for its construction.

Several said they were told at the time that only a 13-unit apartment complex was being built, but were dismayed to find the number of apartments had raised to 36.

Some were also angry that the original development permit was amended to allow the apartment to be placed on the narrow, south-end corner of the lot, instead of in the centre where it would have offered a buffer to neighbouring trailers.

Additionally, a fence surrounding the apartment was supposed to have been built nearly two years ago, but was only erected last month.

Upset with city

Roger Russell was upset that administration recommended the latest zoning change, when Chang had already been denied an earlier request to increase the density two years ago.

"I honestly feel like I'm being screwed by the City of Yellowknife," said Russell. "Once you come to council for re-zoning and you fail, you shouldn't be able to apply again."

Patrick Smith said it was unfathomable that the city would consider re-zoning the property, considering the past troubles they've had getting the developer to abide by their terms.

"The fence was finally completed last month -- 22 months late," said Smith.

"I don't see why we should reward the developer for ignoring the rules."

To add weight to their presence at council Monday was a petition signed by 63 residents opposed to the zoning change.

Chang said he is only trying to develop affordable housing, adding that's difficult because few neighbourhoods are willing to accept less-expensive homes being built next door.

He "took offence" to suggestions that his apartment building has had a negative effect on the city, stating that residents shouldn't worry about residents living next door.

"This is affordable single-family housing we're talking about," said Chang. "I think they'll complement the homes in the area."

As for complaints that he stalled on completing the fence, Chang said he tried to get it built earlier, but couldn't find a contractor to do it on time.

Ultimately, the majority of councillors present agreed that the neighbourhood was crowded enough.

"I'm not willing to do affordable housing at the expense of destroying a neighbourhood," said Coun. Bob Brooks.

"That's what I think this will accomplish if we approve it."