The DVP for an ancillary building on McGrath Road on ag land was turned down by city council Tuesday

The DVP for an ancillary building on McGrath Road on ag land was turned down by city council Tuesday

Big shop on ag land gets turned down by Chilliwack council

Lot coverage for a rural shop is 100 sq.m. maximum. But an applicant wanted to increase the lot coverage to three times that size.

Chilliwack council said ‘no’ to a massive shop building on agricultural land in Rosedale, in which the applicant planned to store recreational vehicles and a workshop.

The development variance permit application was for the structure to be built on a lot three times the size of the maximum lot coverage.

But the DVP for an ancillary building on McGrath Road was turned down by most of council Tuesday, in part because the applicant did not appear in council chambers to explain why it had to be so big.

Maximum lot coverage for rural ancillary building of this type is 100 square metres, and the applicant wanted to increase the lot coverage to 313 square metres.

The city’s maximum lot coverage standard echoes the same 100 sq. m maximum used by the Agricultural Land Commission.

However the variance for the rural property at 10759 McGrath Road was deemed supportable by city staff in the staff report:

“The proposed increase to the lot coverage for rural ancillary use is considered supportable in this instance as the variance is not anticipated to have any negative impact on the surrounding properties due to the significant setback from McGrath Road and the similar scale of existing nearby agricultural structures.”

Currently located on the property is a single family detached home.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz was one of the council members who voted against the variance.

Coun. Sam Waddington ask if there was any way staff could ensure the building would not be utilized for a “commercial shop operation.”

Gaetz responded that council tends to take an applicant at their word, unless the neighbours come back to say it’s being used for other purposes other than those stated.

“But we have been tricked before,” she said.

Coun. Chris Kloot also had questions about the size of the ancillary building. He noted that council is in the midst of gathering information with its Farm Home Plate discussions, looking at issues such as where buildings should be sited on ag land, to preserve farm land.

“This to me looks like a shop, and without some clarity I don’t think I can support it.”

Coun. Chuck Stam asked about the option of referring it back to staff for more information.

“I think they provided all the information required,” Gaetz said. “They are just not here to answer our questions.”

Stam noted the applicant also plans to store recreational vehicles, and said he had no real problem with the variance.

“The size was not an issue since the neighbours were in favour.”

But the variance motion was defeated by a vote of 4-3. Voting against the DVP were Mayor Gaetz, Coun. Waddington, Coun. Popove and Coun. Kloot.

The applicant can reapply either with the same plan in six months or a different one sooner if the plan is modified.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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