The last time Village of Radium Hot Springs council discussed development permit applicant No. 145, council chambers were filled with concerned citizens and developers of the project. The meeting got heated when the council discussed the variance the applicant was asking for, with developers asking council to let them delay pave their parking lot until it was economically feasible after three years of operation.
Council rediscussed the permit at their Wednesday, April 12th meeting with councillor Mike Gray leaving chambers due to being direct competition with the applicant. The developers plan to redevelop the Old Church Property on Madsen Road into a restaurant and live music establishment and to do so they need council to approve their application.
Council had to revisit this issue because at the previous meeting in March there had been only three councillors in attendance. Councillors voted two to one last time, and since they needed to have a majority of three (out of five total councillors) in agreement they had to revisit the issue.
Before council discussion began, Mayor Clara Reinhardt allowed members of the community in the gallery to voice their concerns to council. All three citizens who spoke to council expounded variations of the idea of ‘what’s good for one should be good for everyone, if other businesses had to pave their parking lots, then this business should have to as well’. One business owner said if we want our community to grow as a community we should have the same rules.
Councillor Ron Verboom was upfront about his concern of allowing the variance and how it could set precedent for the future.
“When this came up last meeting I was against approving this variance,” said Verboom. “I just think it opens a whole can of worms on future developments that we’ll see.
He also posed the question how many restaurants do you pull in and see a gravel driveway? What does that say about our standards, he asked council.
Councillor Todd Logan said “I think we have to recognize the businesses that have paved.”
“If we make an exception here we can be getting challenges along the way,” said Logan.
Councillor Tyler McCauley raised the question of the cost of the paving saying “I’m surprised they haven’t trimmed their project to fit their budget.”
“My feeling was they were just trying to kick the bucket as far as they could down the road,” said McCauley.
Another concern the community had was how the unpaved parking would give an unfair advantage with the taxation of the property. According to Chief Administrative Officer Mark Read assessors would look at a paved parking lot as an increased value in the property over an unpaved, potentially raising taxes on a property with a paved parking lot.
The applicant asked for three-year term to complete the paving of the parking lot with the entrance and handicapped parking area being paved by 2018 and the rest completed by 2020. In their application, they suggested a $5,000 security be held by the Village to ensure completion.
“At the end of the day we still have no guarantee,” said Reinhardt.
Council denied the variance to the zoning bylaw, but granted the development permit for the Old Church property.