Letter: Let’s Compare: Potlatch vs. Legends/707

Tuesday, October 11 2016

Dear Editor

I was quite surprised to read in the September 13 edition of the paper that the Potlatch applicant wants the LTC to stay consistent in how it treats their application compared to the previous density transfer. I wholeheartedly agree, but let’s compare:

The minimum average lot size determines the density or number of lots. The OCP contains a formula for calculating the minimum average lot size in the case of density transfers.  

Legends – minimum average lot size was calculated according to the OCP policy and results in a zoning that allows only the 49 lots they were entitled to and no more.

Potlatch – minimum average lot size was calculated using a subdivision regulation (incorrectly, at that) and results in a zoning that allows 35 lots when the entitlement is supposed to be, at most, 25 lots.

OCP policy requires that the minimum average lot size in the Resource Residential zone must be equal to or greater than 2 ha (4.94 acres).

Legends – the minimum average lot size at 5.8 acres is greater than 4.94 acres,

Potlatch – the minimum average lot size at 4.7 acres is less than 4.94 acres.

OCP policy allows a density of 1 lot for every 8 ha (19.76 acres) of Forestry zoned land only if the lots are transferred to Resource zoned land and the Forestry land given to the public. Otherwise the density in the Forestry zone is 1 lot for every 148.2 acres.

Legends – asked to transfer density from Forestry zone to Forestry zone and were informed that the OCP doesn’t allow it. They had to transfer the density to Resource zoned land and to give all the land zoned Forestry to the public in order to get an 8 ha (19.76 acre) density.

Potlatch – are proposing to transfer density from Forestry zone to Forestry zone contrary to OCP Policy and as a result are realizing an 8 ha (19.76 acre) density on the Church St. Forestry land without having to donate the 60 acres of Forestry land that the OCP calls for.

The OCP policy allows 1 lot for every 8 ha (19.76 acres) of Forestry zoned land donated to the public. Because this number does not divide evenly into most large parcels of land there is a remaining acreage.

Legends - were not allowed to keep the remainder of the Forestry zone (15.4 acres) as a separate lot but had to include it in the donation.

Potlatch – propose to keep the left over acreage (8.4 acres) as a separate lot above the 25 lots in the receiving area.

What about process?

Legends – the process was transparent with no shortcuts or hidden rezoning and every OCP policy was followed.

Potlatch –the process has been shortened and a required step (according to OCP policy) to rezone the Church St. Forestry parcel to Resource before a density transfer can occur was skipped, but the benefits were retained. This truncated, hidden rezoning process makes it possible to rezone the Forestry parcel for higher density without the required public benefit mandated by OCP policy and without addressing the issues that arise from that.

Covenants required for the Legends and expected for the Potlatch application.

Legends – the covenant limits the development to 49 lots which is the number of lots allowed by the zoning as calculated according to the OCP policy.

Potlatch – the proposed covenant would limit the development to 25 lots which is not in line with the zoning that allows 35 lots and was calculated on a subdivision regulation.

While there are no covenants on Lots 6 and 7 in the receiving area, there is no doubt that the density on those lots has already been realized. When the Ivory Way subdivision happened there was no need for covenants since the zoning would not allow any further lots. No one anticipated that the lots would be used again in a density transfer application. So, in effect the applicant is using the same lots twice in calculating density. Technically legal, if not in the spirit of density limits.

There is no believable rationale for calculating the minimum average lot size at 4.7. It creates a direct contradiction between zoning and covenant. While it does nothing for the community, it allows the applicant to subdivide without losing any lots for the 5% required park dedication. If it was calculated according to the OCP, as the Legends application was, the minimum average lot size would be 6.7 acres and like any other landowner the applicant might lose a lot or two at subdivision.

If the intent is to guarantee that the applicant doesn’t lose those 2 lots, the minimum average lot size would need to be 6.3 acres and no smaller. This would allow 25 lots without losing any to a 5% park dedication and would be in line with the proposed covenant. There’s absolutely no need for a 4.7 acre minimum average lot size that allows 35 lots, contradicts a number of OCP policies, and doesn’t agree with the covenant. It would still be at variance with OCP policy, but at least clever wording or a legal challenge to the covenant in the future wouldn’t put us at risk of ending up with 10 extra lots.

In short, the Potlatch application takes advantage of the benefits of the density transfer provision in the OCP but doesn’t follow subsequent policies that are an integral part of density transfers and are there to protect the interests of the community.

The proposed zoning bylaw allows for 10 extra lots on the Receiving Parcels, another extra lot on the Forestry remainder, and 2 extra lots by virtue of an entirely new process whereby proposed bylaws rezone property for purposes of calculating current density. That adds up to an allowance for 13 lots more than what would be allowed if the OCP policies were being followed as they were by the Legends.

The LTC may have the authority to legally rezone any property they wish to whatever zone they wish, but is it right or fair? Integral OCP policies are being ignored, erroneous calculations of density made, and every possible advantage has been given to this application. In contrast, the previous applicant was made to comply with every OCP policy.  

The Potlatch applicants are correct in their view that the LTC is not dealing with their application in a manner consistent with the previous density transfer but it’s not Potlatch that’s being hard done by; it’s the community and other applicants. 

I’m asking that the LTC respect the OCP and do what is fair and not what is merely legal.

~ Gisele Rudischer