The regional district is taking court action against a property owner in Willowbrook for a building bylaw infraction.
Last week the board voted to seek an injunction for a large horse riding arena that was built on Jones Way Road last fall.
Building inspection supervisor Laura Miller reported that an official noticed the construction of a large accessory building on Sept. 5, 2018. A stop-work order was placed on the project because, allegedly, there was no building permit.
“The property owner was quite upset that the building official was on his property,” Miller said.
On Sept. 7 the owner attended the regional district office and applied for a building permit. But during a zoning check, it was discovered that the building did not meet the minimum setback requirement of 15 metres. In other words, the building was encroaching into the west side yard setback. Therefore, a variance was required. This information was conveyed to the owner along with details for applying for a development variance permit.
On Sept. 21 a building official visited the site and discovered that construction was continuing (without the variance). On Oct. 3 a bylaw offence notice with a fine of $200 was sent to the owner for failing to obey the previous order.
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On Nov. 5 a letter was sent to the owner requesting a variance permit be applied for. Miller said the owner was advised that the building should not be occupied until a valid permit was issued. As of Jan. 3, no variance had been applied for.
According to Miller, the owner had advertised the building on social media as “completed and usable.”
Miller said the building infraction is considered to be category 3 (potential health and safety deficiencies), warranting a Section 302 notice on title and injunctive action.
Miller said seeking a court injunction has a legal cost.
Area C Director Rick Knodel said the board took action on this issue as a result of the owner not coming forward to give input.
But he admitted that bureaucratic procedures, once triggered, are annoying.
Knodel confirmed the building in question was constructed without a permit, but the owner has claimed it as a farm building.
He said that would still require an exemption permit (at no cost) prior to construction, which would have detected the setback violation and been dealt with at that time.
But he noted the building was completed before the exemption was issued while under the stop-work order.
“This was before my tenure, but I believe all that is required at this point is a variance to the setback from the next property.”
Knodel said he is not a fan of how these setbacks are written because they are more appropriate for a subdivision or urban environment. But he noted a variance procedure can deal with this problem until a legislated change can be made.
“It (the variance) should not be an issue once it is undertaken.”