The property at 320 Forrest Crescent. District of Hope map

Fears around crime, homelessness expressed by residents in Forrest Crescent rezoning

Developer wants to construct a duplex on the site at 320 Forrest Crescent

A public hearing into whether to rezone a lot on Forrest Crescent started with an uncharacteristic warning by Hope’s mayor.

The hearing was held June 15 on whether to rezone a lot at 320 Forrest Crescent to two-family residential, in order for developer Ron Imerman to build a duplex on the lot. The neighbourhood is currently under the RS-1, single family residential, zoning.

“Please be aware that some people may find some of these comments offensive and discriminatory,” Mayor Peter Robb said. “However, they do form part of the public hearing.” The views of those who wrote in and opposed the proposed development, which the mayor reads into the record at public hearings, don’t represent the views of the district he made clear.

Watch: June 15 public hearing video

A petition, completed by 17 residents, included several barbs directed at the owner of the property including calling them an “absentee owner intent on destroying our peace-of-mind.”

The petition states the make-up of the neighbourhood, with a majority of mature and senior citizens, would be “destroyed” by renters in a multi-family building. The petition also expressed opinions about rental tenants and the issues they could bring to the neighbourhood.

“Too many tenants have no sense of responsibility to take care of their property, or to be good neighbours…Vandalism and theft is rampant in this town, and it is not welcome on our road,” the petition read. Brian and Donna Adamson, signatories of the petition, stated a rental duplex would “lower (the) value, also lower (the) class of resident compared to owners only” adding that “renters as a rule (are) not as respectful as owners.”

Tracy Ubell and Roger Wilson, who own the neighbouring property, were equally blunt. “Rental tenants can be very unsavoury characters – it’s been proven over and over” they wrote.

Resident Mary Birchmore noted that the concern of having renters in the neighbourhood is real as the neighbours won’t know the tenants, a concern echoed by C. Chaytors and Joseph Tony Duguay. Several noted that current renters don’t participate in a neighbourhood block watch program.

The property owner, Imerman, said there was a common misunderstanding that he was requesting the rezoning to build rentals. “The home is not being built for rental, it will not be an investment property,” he wrote. “It is being built for my partner and his family to live in a family who will contribute to the economy, both businesses and citizens.”

About the fears of decreased property values, Imerman wrote that the build would be new construction that usually adds to the value of surrounding properties.

Others noted that the development could potentially increase crime in the neighbourhood. Glenn Coleman stated the development “would bring in (a) new level of crime, which is not good for property (values.)” Others were more blunt. Sylvestr Odehnal wrote ‘homeless and drug dealers’ and ‘increased crime activity’ were his concerns. Neighbour Alan Remple stated his fears that ‘setting this multi-family precedent could open the door for BC Housing and/or an aggressive non-profit organization to rezone Forrest Crescent properties for low income housing, supportive housing or shelter housing.”

Imerman emphasized that his rezoning request was to build a duplex, adding that concerns related to renters and the assumption that the development would be for social, supportive or shelter housing “does not apply here.”

“The new owner also wants to neighborhood to be safe for his family and would gladly keep an eye out for what goes on in the neighborhood,” Imerman wrote. “His concerns for safety are the same as everyone else in the neighborhood.”

“This is not a multi-family highrise,” he wrote, adding that the rezoning request is in line with the district’s land use and housing policies, “a policy that recognizes the need for a variety of housing types, lot sizes and densities to support current and future residents throughout the various stages of their lives.” Director of community development Jas Gill confirmed the proposed development is in line with the district’s official community plan.

Several neighbours also expressed concern about potential issues with parking and snow clearing on the dead-end road. Imerman said this is not an issue, as the lot itself is big enough to accomodate parking.

Concerns around flooding were expressed by some neighbours. The .958 acre lot has experiences flooding, in 1995 water flowed from the highway, through a culvert and out onto the property as well as Forrest Crescent.

A hazard assessment, done by Madrone Environmental Services, found the area is susceptible to ‘localized landslide and hazards related to storm water drainage,’ district documents stated. Yet with mitigation measures done, Madrone confirmed the property would be safe to house a duplex on.

Gill said throughout the building process, geotechnical expertise will have to be retained to ensure the development is ‘safe in each of its phases.’

“All the plans and building will be done according to building codes with engineers, architects and builders on board who know about these things. City inspectors are involved in the whole process,” Imerman assured.

The request to rezone the property passed a third reading at a June 22 council meeting, with all councillors voting in favour save for Bob Erickson opposed. Councillors will need to vote in favour to adopt the zoning change at a future council meeting.

The plans also needs to be looked at by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure if it passes the rezoning in the district.

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