Residents unhappy with zoning amendment application at Bear’s Paw Heights

Residents of Selkirk Hill in Golden gathered on Tuesday, January 29 to speak up against the rezoning of Bear’s Paw Heights to allow additional duplexes to be built in the subdivision.

The area in question has been historically zoned R1 for suitable family homes, explained Town of Golden planner and manager of development services Phil Armstrong. The developer, Gur Manhas, set out to rezone the area to allow extra duplexes in the subdivision, along with ones that are already set to be built.

But, the community spoke loud and clear to town council at the public hearing, stating that the duplexes and increase in density were not suitable for the area. In addition, residents took a stance against the planning and lot sizes.

“There was six months of planning just on lot sizes alone,” Manhas explained to the galley. “We took a [chance] to put this out there because we saw a need for it.”

Residents raised concerns that buyers from out of town would purchase the duplexes to be used as rentals, and thus would not benefit the community. Many people added that the duplexes would not fit in with the type of neighbourhood, and could create additional parking issues and road safety issues.

“There’s no shortage of room in Golden for duplexes to be built,” said Arnold Benty, who was one of the first people to build a house on that end of Spruce Drive.

Some residents, like Joanne Sweeting, said that the variance in setbacks would compromise the privacy of neighbours, and the change in the type of housing could create density issues similar to Calgary and Canmore. She suggested that if homes were built with basement suites it could offer a similar amount of available housing for people looking to buy and rent in the area.

With the proposed zoning amendment to allow duplexes, some people who have bought lots at Bear’s Paw Heights have put their plans to build on hold.

Many of those who came out to speak at the public hearing were unimpressed by the developer’s plans to change the neighbourhood. Nearly another 50 written submissions spoke out against the application, and only two were in favour. One of those written submissions was from the developer.

“The developer originally had plans to place a couple of duplexes on certain corners. Now, the applicant has applied for a rezoning to allow more duplexes in the subdivision,” Town of Golden CAO Jon Wilsgard previously explained. “That has created a contentious environment, I would say. There’s a number of residents who have expressed their displeasure with this, which is fine.”

Moving forward, town council will have to make a decision whether or not to allow the additional duplexes in the subdivision.

Any time a change in density occurs, developers are required to make an application for a zoning amendment. The purpose of the public hearing is to ensure resident’s have the opportunity to have their say.

“Every developer has that right to application,” Town of Golden Mayor Ron Oszust said at the hearing.

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