The need to protect neighbours’ privacy and the neighbourhood’s past were a couple of the reasons council in Cumberland has turned down a development permit request.
The applicant had proposed a carriage house as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) at 2522 Dunsmuir Ave., on what is the historic Camp Road. The secondary home would be on a slope above the main home.
Couns. Sean Sullivan and Jesse Ketler both spoke in favour of the permit, saying it met all the requirements for a development permit in the area. At times, Sullivan appeared frustrated, shaking his head, describing opposition the village has received from some in the neighbourhood as “NIMBYism.”
“I’m really shocked that this is what’s happening,” he said, adding that the proponent had done an exceptional job of mitigating the issues raised.
Ketler reiterated the point that the application met the guidelines and that the area is one targeted for residential infill, a goal the village has identified in order to increase the supply of affordable housing.
“I’m really concerned that we’re sort of mixing up future heritage preservation with the development permit that we’re looking at right now,” she said. “It’s not in the heritage conservation area…. Yes, there likely needs to be heritage protection for this area, but currently there is not.”
However, the rest of council preferred to hold off on the permit. Coun. Gwyn Sproule noted a couple of times during the lengthy discussion that the matter had not been referred to the heritage advisory committee. She also questioned the proposed house’s fit with the area.
Similarly, Mayor Leslie Baird said that while she liked the design of the proposed carriage house, it did not fit with the historic character of the neighbourhood.
“That street is unique in Canada,” she said.
Coun. Vickey Brown elaborated on the point about the surrounding neighbourhood and whether the new home would fit based on its proposed roof and siding materials. She also spoke of how the secondary home would tower over the main home.
“This has been a really challenging application,” she said.
She also rejected the notion that the issues raised were NIMBYism or even about heritage but instead were about form and character.
“It’s really about the ADU fitting into the context of this neighbourhood,” she said.
Another main concern was whether the proposed ADU would encroach on the privacy of adjacent homes. There were questions about whether trees present would provide some type of screening.
Brown cited the doors and windows at the side of the house, as well as the fact the home would be situated on a slope above the main house, meaning the carriage house could have views down into the main house and surrounding homes.
In the end, council voted 3-2 to deny the development permit application, with Ketler and Sullivan opposing. The motion also asked for the proponent to submit a design more sensitive to the scale, mass and form of the adjacent buildings.
Staff had recommended issuing the permit as the proposal met current development permit requirements, but that if it was to be denied, they should provide information to the applicant about revisions for the ADU in order to mitigate the issues raised. The item had also been sent to council’s advisory planning commission (APC), which voted to support the plan.
The village had received correspondence from several people in the area earlier this year, expressing concerns about privacy and the character of the neighbourhood, along with other issues such as parking along the road.
The property owner held a meeting in early March. While it was advertised, there was a clerical error by which people from properties within 75 metres were not invited directly. They had been sent a first notice about the application and referral to the APC. The staff report notes neighbourhood meetings are not required for development permit application, though they can be held at the discretion of council. People from eight of the 16 properties were either represented at the meeting or sent submissions to the village.