Hay River council has unanimously rejected a town administration recommendation presented at its July 30 meeting to not allow variation from a bylaw for a new caretaker unit in the Industrial Area.
The town received a request from Trade Show Direct asking to allow a variance on size for a proposed shop/caretaker’s building at 42 Industrial Drive.
“I don’t believe that we should be stopping development from going forward in our community for 125 square feet,” said Coun. Jeff Groenewegen, who noted that previous councils have granted similar variances in the past. “I don’t believe the request being made is unreasonable.”
Coun. Keith Dohey also expressed his opposition to town administration’s recommendation.
“For me, I’ve always kind of struggled with the idea that as a town why we limit the size of a residence on these commercial lots if they are being used for a commercial purpose,” he said. “In my opinion, if somebody wants to build a residence on a commercial lot and pay commercial taxes and pay commercial utility bills and everything else that comes along with that and live in an industrial area, I don’t know why as a town we wouldn’t allow them to do that.”
Coun. Steve Anderson said he understands that the town has to follow its bylaws.
“But in the tradition of accelerating land development in our town, we need to be innovative and flexible so as to establish and maintain growth in our community,” he said. “And I think this is a prime example of where there is opportunity to create more income and that type of stuff, and have a new building go up in our town.”
Once the recommendation was defeated, an alternate motion was unanimously passed to permit the variance from the bylaw.
According to background information provided to council, the site is zoned C2 Highway/Service Commercial, and caretaker units are allowed in the zone under discretionary uses. They can only be an integral part of the principal building. They cannot be a detached unit in the zone.
The maximum area of the living space for a caretaker unit which forms an integral part of the principal building must not be greater than 91.74 square metres (1,000 square feet).
The town’s development officer may approve a development application notwithstanding that the proposed use does not comply with the bylaw, if the non-compliance is minor and where denial of the application would cause the applicant unnecessary hardship.
Town administration noted the original permit request from Trade Show Direct did not meet the size requirements for a caretaker unit in the Zoning and Building bylaw, and the variance request did not meet the exceptions provided for in the relaxation of regulations.
“Therefore, administration recommends that the request for a variance to the bylaw for a larger caretaker unit be declined,” reads the recommendation to council. “Approving the variance request would contravene the town’s current bylaws and would set an undesirable precedent for similar requests from others.”