The conclusion of a public hearing Monday night to discuss Lynn Spraggs’ Kalavista Drive property left Coldstream council with a decision —to rezone, or not to rezone?
Spraggs approached council earlier this month with a request to build a permanent modular home for him and his wife to live in while their daughter moves into their current home on the neighbouring property.
The 76-year-old retired civil engineer said he wants to downsize to a ranch-style home because he struggles “a little” with stairs, and wants their daughter nearby to help care for him and his wife as they age. He claims that a modular home is a better fit than a “stick built” because the construction phase is less invasive to the environment and significantly shorter.
Coldstream’s current bylaw does not allow for modular homes to be constructed in a residential single family zone, and would require that the bylaw be amended to allow Spraggs to move forward with the build.
A public hearing was held on Jan. 8 to discuss the issue, but less than half of council in attendance, Mayor Jim Garlick said he didn’t feel comfortable voting on the issue without more colleagues present and held the hearing over until Monday.
Spraggs’ request received a chilly reception from some of his neighbours, who told council at last week’s public hearing, and in a series of letters submitted to council, that they felt the home’s perceived lack of “curb appeal” could “erode” the value of the surrounding properties.
Chief among those challengers was Larry Peters.
On Jan. 8, Peters told council he had difficulty understanding why council would allow a “plain Jane home” to be built on what he says the provincial tax assessors call “a trophy neighbourhood.”
He attended the Jan. 15 hearing with an additional complaint — that Spraggs, by having his home partially constructed offsite in a factory, was taking business away from “tax paying local contractors.”
“When we buy modular homes, they come on the back of trailer, pulled by a truck onto a lot. They have appliances in them — all stuff that people would otherwise buy in their community,” Peters told the audience.
“In the Kalavista neighbourhood there are a number of finishing contractors, I say this because these people pay taxes to the neighbourhood so let’s not forget them.”
But in the battle to deter Spragg’s build, Peters appears to be the last man standing.
Since the initial public hearing, Spraggs said several people have come forward in support of him and and his wife.
In a letter addressed to council, Coldstream residents Peter and Nairn von Hahn said they felt Spraggs’ request for rezoning his property is “entirely reasonable” and that the negative response by some has brought out signs of “underground snobbery” in the community, with “little compassion expressed for family needs.”
“The trophies in Coldstream are the people, not the homes,” the von Hahns wrote.
“The aesthetic value of the neighbourhood is how neighbours care, support, nurture and interact with each other.”
Mayor Jim Garlick said the hearing is now closed, which means no new information will be accepted. Council will vote on the issue at the next regular council meeting.