During the October 14 council meeting, the City of Fernie decided to put a moratorium on any subdivision and single-family residential small lot (R1SL) zoning amendment applications, after hearing public backlash about a three-story building requesting a variance setback — a request to extend property limitations — on 7th Avenue.
Council noted that the R1SL zoning amendment bylaws are outdated and need to be updated before further requests can be made in order to avoid public backlash, which, during the October 14 meeting included complaints of parking, snow removal and limited street access for emergency vehicles.
Although the couple requesting the additional zoning, permitted within the regulation of the current bylaw, satisfied the parking requirement, council expressed concern over approving any further subdivision and R1SL zoning amendment applications.
“I think we need to stop everything before it goes any further,” Coun. Joe Warshawsky noted. “From this date forward, anything filed after today should not be done until this moratorium is done.”
He went on to say, “We’re creating a fire hazard. I’m against it because I live that nightmare on 7th Avenue; it’s not working.”
Several councillors, however, did not hold as strong of a stance as Warshawsky, and noted that the issue with the R1SL zoning comes down to parking, something that can be properly enforced through the city.
“I think the parking issue is real, but I think a lot of that responsibility falls on the city to enforce the parking regulations and double up efforts in congested areas like that,” Coun. Willard Ripley noted.
In terms of the October 14 zoning request, the City of Fernie passed the motion to allow for a variance permit, as the moratorium had not yet been initialized. The decision to approve the variance setback, however, was split.
“Right or wrong, it fits within our bylaws and until they amend those, they can’t say no to this,” Coun. Dan McSkimming noted.
Coun. Phil Iddon added, “I don’t think it’s fair to make these gentleman pay for mistakes we’ve made.”