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Appeals board grants more project approvals despite conflict with zoning bylaw

The appeals board approved the construction of a new porch and two new garages
Moose Jaw City Hall
Moose Jaw City Hall (Shutterstock)

The Development Appeals Board continues to give property owners permission to construct projects that conflict with the City of Moose Jaw’s zoning bylaw.

The board met on Aug. 28 to hear appeals from property owners Sam Shaw, Patricia Watling and Jay Fellinger, each of whom made applications for variances under the zoning bylaw. It then presented a report with its decisions to city council during the Sept. 9 regular meeting. Council unanimously voted to receive and file the report.

Shaw — on behalf of property owner Sammual Morrison — wanted to construct a large garage on a double-wide lot at 459 Lillooet Street West and Five Avenue Southwest that has a floor space of 179 square metres (1,927 square feet), contrary to the 83.6 square metres (900 square feet) in the zoning bylaw. The garage would allow Morrison to store his vintage and collector/restored vehicles.

The appeals board received two letters from adjacent neighbours, who said they had no problem with the proposed garage.

In reviewing the evidence, the board decided to grant the requested variance relaxation since the size of the property is larger than average; the building would not cause visual obstructions or concerns for the health, safety and general welfare of residents; and neighbouring properties would not be “injuriously affected.”

Morrison had a similar application rejected in 2017, pointed out Coun. Scott McMann. At that time the property owner wanted to build a structure that was 24 feet by 70 feet in size; now he wants to build a structure that is 24 feet by 68 feet.

The councillor wondered why this new application was approved.

It is the appeals board that makes the decision, not city administration, explained Michelle Sanson, director of planning and development services. City administration simply gives the board the facts of each case; it can appeal the decision if it doesn’t like the outcome. That has been done in the past.

Watling wanted to construct a new front porch at 1122 Seventh Avenue Northwest and replace the existing front porch that was built in 1949. The front yard setback would be 4.57 metres (15 feet), which is contrary to the minimum required setback of 7.5 metres (24.6 feet) in the zoning bylaw.

The appeals board granted the requested variance relaxation since the new porch would be the same size as the old porch and would be in the same location; the neighbourhood aesthetics would continue to be preserved and even improved with a new porch; and granting the variance “will not injuriously affect the neighbouring properties.”

Fellinger wanted to construct a detached garage at 1110 Simcoe Street, which would have a height from grade to peak of 5.73 metres (18.8 feet), contrary to the maximum height of 4.5 metres (14.76 feet) in the zoning bylaw.

In reviewing the evidence, the board granted the requested variance relaxation since the proposed development would not negatively affect the comfort and aesthetics of the neighbourhood; would fit into the neighbourhood and not result in excessive shadowing or cause visual disturbances; and would not “injuriously affect the neighbouring properties.”