Rezoning issues surface at council meeting

Council takes a closer look at covenants and rezoning

Some of the items on the District of Sooke council agenda on January 23 were  there to correct some wrongs created years ago.

Council  voted to schedule a public hearing to remove a restrictive covenant placed on the Sooke Harbour House back in 2003. The covenant restricted the number of events that could occur at the inn to 15 per year.

The applicants,  Sinclair and Frederique Philip, want more flexibility in holding commercial events, weddings, etc. as this is an economic driver for their business and for Sooke in general. The owners of Sooke Harbour House had to build a separate parking lot across from the inn to accommodate guests who might attend larger gatherings.

Planner Gerard LeBlanc said, “staff believe the removal of the covenant is a good thing and it will enable the property to be used  as it was intended to be used. It makes good sense to do that.”

Councillor Bev Berger said  it was “crazy that this covenant ever existed.”

A public hearing on this matter will be held on February 13, 2012.

Rezoning issues brought a number of local residents before council at the Committee of the Whole meeting held after the regular council meeting.

John Brohman said that rezoning residential properties from R1 to RU4 was going the wrong way and the properties were being down zoned in the Sooke Zoning Bylaw 500.

He said that changing the zoning to RU4 meant that his properties were now non-conforming. Brohman said that with the change in zoning he was choked at the amount of taxes he was paying and with the fact that he could no longer build more dwellings on the property unless he applied for rezoning, which was expensive and seen as a money grab.

Other residents also came forward and said they were never really informed that their properties were being down zoned, which results in a hardship for them if they wanted to build.

Mayor Milne said they had a number of complaints on this  issue and it was in discussion now.

The complainants want their properties rezoned back to R1.

The remainder of the items on the January 23 agenda will be reported in the February 1 issue.