by Dave Preston
Some Peachland council members had to do an about face Tuesday morning when critical information was given by staff after a lengthy debate.
On the table was a staff recommendation that council rescind third reading of a zoning bylaw amendment for a controversial downtown development.
Steve Allison has proposed replacing the Edgewater Inn and Aegean Grill buildings with a new, three-storey, mixed used building. The project had been through a public hearing and had received third reading.
“It’s clear that since that public hearing, a lot of information has come forward,” Dave Smith, director of planning and development services, told council Tuesday.
“The public hearing has been compromised,” said Smith.
Because of the volume of new information that has come forward, from the developer, the public and a peer review panel set up by Mayor Keith Fielding, staff felt council had to hold another public hearing on the project.
Smith said he received an email from the developer’s agent Tuesday morning stating they were not opposed to council rescinding third reading.
Coun. Eldon Kerbes suggested the project is not going to happen so council should rescind all readings.
“Right now it just ties up a parking lot,” said Kerbes.
The zoning bylaw amendment references a separate parking covenant that would allow Allison’s company TNI The Network Inc. to use the majority of a district-owned parking lot on Second Street.
“I don’t feel from what we’ve heard from the developer that we have a valid project anymore,” said Coun. Terry Condon.
Rescinding all readings and starting back at “square one” would send a message to other developers that the town is still open for business, according to Condon.
Coun. Cindy Fortin asked staff if a representative of the developer should be present if council was to consider rescinding first and second reading. CAO Elsie Lemke replied that council would not have to invite a representative.
Council then voted on a motion to rescind third reading, which was carried unanimously.
Debate at the Committee of the Whole table then turned back to the topic of rescinding first and second reading.
Coun. Peter Schierbeck said the developer is still interested in proceeding with the project and rescinding first and second reading would send the wrong message.
Wiping the first two readings off the table would be like doing down to Steve Allison’s office, knocking on his door and saying, get out of town, remarked Coun. Vern Moberg.
Schierbeck noted that the developer was only forewarned by the municipality that council would consider rescinding third reading, not all readings.
At that point, Smith noted that the developer was asked about rescinding first and second readings and the answer was that they would not like them rescinded at this time.
Several council members that had shown interest in rescinding the first two readings immediately changed their minds with the new information from Smith.
Council voted on rescinding first and second readings and all members of council voted against the motion.
The ‘TNI’ development now sits at second reading stage. The parking covenant remains as is. If the project is to proceed further, it will have to go to a new public hearing.