Courtenay rezoning hearing turns emotional

A public hearing about a contentious rezoning application for a secondary suite in a residential Courtenay neighbourhood took an emotional turn at the final council meeting of the year Monday.

Dawn and Mark Filipponi own the property in question but do not reside at 1968 Dogwood Ave. Their sons live upstairs and downstairs.

Upon canvassing the neighbourhood, Dawn says they could not find one person against rezoning the house from single- to multi-family. However, next-door neighbours Norm Schlosser, and Mike and Tina Stevens spoke against the application.

"There is still an illegal suite. I ask why?" Schlosser said.

The Stevens have lived in the neighourhood for 18 years. When the Filipponis purchased the property in 2011, a tearful Tina says Mark was aware of the R1 zoning which does not permit secondary suites, but nevertheless renovated his house and "held our backyard hostage." On one occasion when she complained about noise and drinking, Tina said her plea was met with profanity from one of the renters."

Tina notes the illegal suite has a bad track record with the RCMP. According to a staff report, police received eight calls last year about noise and other complaints.

"If this is a test run, I think it's failed," Mike said, noting unheeded noise complaints. "You're making us pit neighbour against neighbour."

Stevens said his house value will decline if council allows the secondary suite.

Schlosser is concerned developers will modify and resell properties in the neighbourhood if the suite is permitted.

"These types of conditions lead to uncontrolled situations," he said. "This process is not working. It's wrong. I feel for the purchasers, but what they've done is affecting us."

The Filipponis did not purchase the property for development purposes, said Dawn, noting "financial implications" if one of their sons has to move out of the house. She broke into tears when she said her son is an alcoholic.

"It's a hard thing to deal with," she said to Tina. "I hope your children never struggle with drugs or alcohol."

Council will address the application early in the New Year.


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