Bear’s Paw Heights subdivision is on Selkirk Hill. Keri Sculland/Star Photo

Bear’s Paw Heights flexible residential lots approved by Golden town council

The zoning amendment bylaw to allow corner duplex lots at Bear’s Paw Heights was passed in a close vote on April 2 by Town of Golden council.

The bylaw amendment follows patterns in the neighbourhood that allow for flexible residential zoning on corner lots, meaning that duplexes could be built there by buyers. Seven flexible residential (R1D) corner lots along Spruce Drive previously existed, but buyers decided to build single family homes. The new lots on the corners of Willow Street and Juniper Street, and Cedar Street and Willow Street follow the similar pattern. The previous seven flexible residential lots were built as part of Bear’s Paw Heights, and the addition of the four new lots are a continuation of Phase 3 and 4, and follow the Town’s Official Community Plan (OCP).

“Through the subdivision approval process, from a planning perspective, the subdivision approving officer must take into account the official community plan’s goals and objectives, such as creating attainable housing opportunities, creating compact communities, smart growth principles, and maximizing current infrastructure,” said Town of Golden planner and manager of development services Phil Armstrong. “It was in this light that town staff asked and encouraged the developer if he was interested in continuing the trend of R1D flexible residential lots on the corners.”

A public hearing was originally held as a chance for the community to speak their views about the corner lots that have been approved, and four additional lots on Juniper Street.

“[The developer] reflected on it, had some interest from builders in the community, and thought it could fit in on that short street, and thought they would look good in a row there if there was thoughtful design that went into them,” Armstrong said. “Part of Bear’s Paw’s building scheme process is they review everyone’s building plans, so he did add that in, and the Town, from a planning perspective, recommended support for that application as well because again it met with these goals.”

An amendment was made to that bylaw application to only include the corner lots, and another public hearing was held. After much consideration, town council voted in favour of approving the four corner lots in Phase 3 and 4 of Bear’s Paw Heights subdivision.

The developer applied for R1D zoning 18 months ago with the Town while the next phases of the subdivision were being planned. Some smaller lots were designed, adding setbacks as a topic of interest to Selkirk Hill residents, which also required town council approval. The smaller lot sizes were built to fulfill the Town’s vision for the OCP.

The area also allows for R1S zoning, single detached homes with secondary residential buildings, which includes a self-contained accessory dwelling unit either detached or within a single detached dwelling for use as a residence.

At the council meeting on April 2, councillors explained their reasoning for and against the zoning amendment bylaw to allow R1D zoning, and ended the meeting with a vote, that was followed by comments from the galley. The vote was close, with some councillors speaking against the zoning, and others in approval. The vote ended 4-3 to approve the bylaw.

“One of the benefits of corner lots is, through thoughtful design, you can build a duplex so one unit faces one street and the other faces the other road. That way, if you’re quickly driving by, it doesn’t even appear to be a duplex because you’re just looking at the frontage of one home,” Armstrong said. “It can be an interesting way of really fitting into the character of the neighbourhood by putting duplexes on corner lots.”

Part of the community plan involves maximizing infrastructure, creating more attainable housing options, and creating compact communities.

“We have worked very diligently with the Town in preparation of this project, and at no point was this about how can we increase our bottom line. Rather, all conversations were centred around what would best benefit the community and people looking to move to Golden, for which… Armstrong has done a fantastic time relaying to us, and developing the proposed and now completed subdivision,” explained developer Gur Manhas, who added that both he and developer Tony Jaswal were born and raised in Golden and still have many ties to the community.

Bear’s Paw Heights building schemes set out the standards of what is allowable on the properties, preventing construction of any dwelling, building, storage facility, and more that does not fit with the character of the neighbourhood.

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