The proponent of a 64-unit multi-family project in Aberdeen feels residents and City council didn't have enough understanding of how his proposal would ease groundwater concerns.
Bill Hatswell, president and owner of the Craftsman Group, said he didn't know what his next step will be with the 2.2-hectare property beside Aberdeen elementary school.
City council turned down his plans, which included duplexes, triplexes and a four-storey apartment building, in a five-to-four vote Tuesday night that came at the end of a three and a half hour public hearing.
Those in favour were councillors Nancy Bepple, Tina Lange, Ken Christian and Arjun Singh. Those who voted it down were Mayor Peter Milobar and councillors Donovan Cavers, Nelly Dever, Marg Spina and Pat Wallace.
For more than two hours at the beginning of the meeting, council heard from resident after resident speak against the project, which would have put multi-family housing between the school and single-family homes.
Citing concerns about loss of privacy, water and unstable ground issues, increased traffic and a higher density than exists in the neighbourhood, more than 100 residents turned out to emphasize their points to council at the public hearing.
Craftsman Ventures proposed to build 11 two-storey duplexes, six three-storey triplexes and a 24-unit four-storey apartment building on 2.2 hectares of land between single-family houses and Aberdeen elementary school.
The tallest of the buildings, the apartment, was planned for the southeast corner of the lot, where it would be furthest away from the houses.
City planner Steven Bentley said the property was zoned for church in the 1970s. But KamPlan and the recent Aberdeen Neighbourhood Plan call for more density in the area.
KamPlan supports 60 per cent of new development to be multi-family; Aberdeen's average is 32 per cent, he said.
Jane Mastin of TRUE Consulting, speaking on behalf of Craftsman, said setbacks would be more than usually required, measuring 7.5 metres to 12 metres to buffer homes on Farrington Court and Fleming Place and Fleming Drive. There would be a three-metre setback between the access road off Van Horne and the Farrington Court houses.
There would be some shadowing in winter on some of those properties, but only be for a few months and it wouldn't be a large amount, she said. The company will deal with groundwater and storm water concerns with liners and other means.
But that wasn't enough for residents, who have signed petitions and made presentations to express their views.
Jacquie Schneider bought her Fleming Place home in 1998.
"When we bought our property, we accepted the possibility there might be a church on this lot at the time. We thought perhaps there would be noise on Sunday and parking. All the development in the area was single family. I have a concern about our privacy," she said, showing a picture of the view of her back yard that the townhouses would have.
"Our back yard will no longer be private and we will have shadow in winter."
She asked that the setbacks from the existing homes be an additional 50 feet. And she asked that the developer put in single family homes and boost the prices to make up for the difference.
Joanne Stafford said neighbours have gathered a petition of 100 property addresses and names of those opposed. She said residents were asked to prioritize their concerns and they came out as: lack of setback/no respectful buffering, ground water and storm water issues and traffic and congestion on Van Horne Drive.
People expected a church to be built in the centre of the property with perhaps a garden, open space and parking around it, she said.
Jason Eichenburger of Farrington Court said the traffic problems are mostly specific to school drop offs, pick ups and events.
However, it could force visitors to park on Van Horne, which is already busy and crowded.
He said residents would prefer to have the public access pathway to the nearby green space on the north side of the property, behind the affected homes, which would create a wider buffer.
Mayor Peter Milobar asked if they would be comfortable with that, as council's experience with public walkways has been that it creates problems for residents along the route.
Eichenburger said they would prefer that.
A Van Horne mother said her kids go to Aberdeen elementary and she has to walk them across the street because the traffic is so bad.
"We've seen three accidents right where they want to put the driveway for this development," she said.
"We shouldn't have to watch our children play Frogger to get across the street to school."
He said residents would accept a 12.5 metro setback on the north side, and wrought-iron fencing and less dense housing.
Another homeowner said she just bought into the area after leaving a strata behind. She was upset to find out she could be living beside another strata, maybe with renters.
Bepple put forward a motion to accept staff's recommendations to allow the project, but with some City oversight on the water collection and removal system, and with the access road possibly being moved away from Farrington Court. She didn't feel the overall impact to people's privacy would be much.
Lange said she reluctantly supported the development. But the fact there are no apartments in the area — which several homeowners mentioned — means there should be one there, she said. Her comment was met with groans.
Singh said making his decision was uncomfortable. As an apartment manager, he didn't like someone dismiss renters as "riff raft."
"It's a painful decision to make, but I will vote for the development," he said.
A man in the audience booed his comment.
Milobar said the developer has done a good job of bring to meet community concerns, but he still had worries about the maintenance and monitoring of the water collection and dispersal system and the shadow impacts.
Wallace and Spina said the water issue was a concern to them, too.