West Kelowna  

OCP decision delayed

Peachland residents will have to wait another two weeks before learning the fate of a controversial, five-storey Beach Avenue development.

Council decided to wait before making a decision to wade through more than three hours of submissions from the developer and residents during a public hearing Tuesday night.

About 350 people packed into the Peachland Community Centre, most strongly opposed to PeachTree Village, a five-storey mixed-use project across from the waterfront, in an area the Official Community Plan envisioned for just three-storeys.

More than 80 people took the microphone, and only eight, including the developer's wife, and two people working on the project, spoke in favour.

Some of those opposed spoke from pre-written handouts from Friends of Beach Avenue, which stated only, "I am against amending the OCP. Three storeys should remain the maximum on Beach Avenue."

But most who spoke cited a combination of issues including, contravention of the OCP which they believe is a binding document and can't be ignored, the erosion of what is a quaint little downtown and the precedent the decision will create, a loss of lake views and lessening of property values, and a lack of parking in an already parking-strapped area of town.

Opposition to the proposed OCP amendment, which would change the height allowance on the property to five storeys was taken after Friends of Beach Avenue took court action, asking a judge to require the development to be cut back to the allowable three storeys as written in the OCP.

Former mayor Keith Fielding was one of those opposed to the change, saying they are un-necessary, and designed to prevent council's support for the project from being derailed by the court challenge.

"Downtown height provisions in the current OCP are written as mandatory provisions to ensure there is an orderly, and sustainable pattern of future development," said Fielding.

"And, that buildings on Beach Avenue are of a human scale, to not eclipse views from behind, and are compatible in size with adjacent buildings."

He claims the OCP can't be clearer on that issue.

"I object to council re-writing in ad hoc ways, our Official Community Plan to suit one developer," said resident Nancy Merrill.

"I object to the proposed change, which is being done to correct a mistake, I could call it incompetence, of this administration and staff...and assuming you could do what you did in September."

Following the public hearing, Mayor Cindy Fortin and council talked briefly before deciding to defer a decision until the Feb. 13 meeting.

Fortin says she did hear some arguments on both sides, that had not be made before that she will have to think about before making a final decision.

One of those, she says, will not be whether to cast her vote as a way to keep her job.

Several in the crowd hinted this would become an election issue, saying they would remember how council voted when they vote for a new council in October.

"I think all of council have received comments like that, and threats," said Fortin.

"The honest truth is, if it means you don't win an election, but I've maintained my integrity and my convictions, then I would be OK with that. I'm not going to be harassed and adult bullied into changing what I feel right about for the community as a whole."

If the development does go ahead, Fortin does believe it will be good for the community.

"The problem is, if you don;t progress, you just stall. We have a lot

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