Legal advice prompts council to reverse vote

Legal advice prompts council to reverse vote

(File photo)

By Lyonel Doherty

In a bizarre turn of events, Oliver Town council reversed its decision on a development variance permit on Monday.

Recently, council denied the application for reduced setbacks to accommodate a home construction and deck at 6965 Mountainview Drive. It was noted then that the bulk of the deck was built before the variance was applied for.

Council members expressed their concern about this tactic, but reportedly the builder had permission. Council subsequently sent the issue back to staff for further scrutiny.

On Monday, Mayor Ron Hovanes said he used aCommunity Charter clause to bring the matter back for reconsideration.

At the start of the discussion, Councillor Maureen Doerr recused herself by walking out of the room. She later told the Chronicle that she works for Royal LePage South Country Realty where the variance permit applicant/agent Mark Pankratz works.

“I did not want there to be any perception of conflict. I have no affiliation with Mark in any other way.”

Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger made the motion to approve the original variance permit application that was denied, saying this was “based on legal advice.”

Council overturned the original denial with a new vote and then carried the new approval motion, with Councillor Dave Mattes opposed. Mattes said he opposed it because he thought it was the “better thing to do.”

On Monday the mayor offered no explanation to the public why he brought back the issue for reconsideration.

But on Wednesday he told the Chronicle that council received further information about the application, therefore, he thought it warranted revisiting.

Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan said there was a valid building permit for the construction in question. However, there was a need to adjust the placement of the building due to geotechnical issues, which triggered the need for the variance.

“No legal action was being undertaken against the Town with respect to this issue,” she pointed out.

Cowan said municipalities do consult on a regular basis with their legal counsel regarding the decisions they make.



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