Cluster housing approved in Penticton

Cluster housing is moving ahead in Penticton.

Cluster housing is moving ahead in Penticton.

Penticton’s first example of cluster housing is moving ahead, despite some opposition at the Sept. 8 public hearing to the number of variances required to squeeze five homes onto a property currently occupied by a single home.

Council approved a zoning amendment in July to allow cluster housing, a group of three or more homes sharing amenity areas on a single parcel.

Neighbours protesting the development at 2922 Wilson St. said they weren’t opposed to densifying the area, but were concerned about the variances and the style of the buildings.

“It’s an abrupt change from what is there now. There aren’t these postmodern structures,” said Angela Cormano, representing her parents who live in the neighbourhood and own a second property immediately adjacent to 2922 Wilson St.

“By all means rezone it to RM2, but then respect the planning setbacks and guidelines that are in place,” said Corman. “My parents are not against densifying the neighbourhood and having new types of housing in there.”

In order to proceed, the developers were asked to reduce the setbacks on two sides of the property and increase the density substantially.

The concept of variances was not intended to be used to densify lots, argued Cormano, who found a supporter in Coun. Campbell Watt.

“As much as I would agree with changing the zoning, I don’t agree with variances for size,” said Watt.

Coun. Judy Sentes was concern about safety aspects of the development, which has three of the units opening onto a back lane.

“We are always looking to densify, but I think we have to be responsible about that densification,” said Sentes. “I just have concerns that even though we are supporting the new concept of cluster housing, would we be overpopulating the property?”

A first motion, that council approve the rezoning, but not the variances needed for the project to go ahead, was defeated four to three, with Coun. Watt, Tarik Sayeed and Max Picton voting in favour.

“I really think this is a big change for that neighbourhood, but I think it is an enhancement,” said Konanz. “We are told constantly we need more densification in this city in order for our housing to become more affordable.”

Despite her earlier concerns about safety and overpopulating the property, Sentes moved to approve the rezoning and the variances.

“I think this council has passed an intent to allow cluster housing. I think this is a good example of that,” said Sentes. The motion passed four to three, with Sayeed, Picton and Watt opposed.