STOPPING the spread of monster houses and keeping a neighbourhood patch of greenery was an issue for some Dundarave residents at a public hearing in West Vancouver on Monday night.
The district plans to sell a nearly 6,000square-foot lot located at 26th Street and Marine Drive and allow a single-family house to be built on it.
Council is committing to limit the house size to one-storey and around 2,500 square feet. The district will also keep and improve a walkway that cuts through the lot, and improve landscaping around the trail, at a cost of $250,000.
It wasn't enough to calm residents' concerns about the loss of green space, disruptive construction and changes to the general character of the quaint seaside neighbourhood.
"We will lose the green space next door, which was our main reason for buying the house last November 2011," said Monam Raghavi.
"My mom and I moved from Coal Harbour because we wanted to be closer to green space. . . . We were never told that this area would get destroyed or made into a building, otherwise we wouldn't have made this decision."
Raghavi said more than 100 neighbours had signed a petition in favour of keeping the area as-is, and some had volunteered to develop and maintain it as a park.
Mollie Anthony, who has lived in Dundarave for 63 years, was also in favour of the lot being turned into a park. She doesn't like the changes she's been seeing in the area.
"I have a very great fear about who is coming and buying in our neighbourhood. It's happening all around us," said Anthony. "They're not from here and they buy a house, then go away and leave it . . . it's very distressing to the neighbourhood that we all really care for."
Noting that developers often find ways to "bend" restrictions, residents said they also had trouble believing the district would succeed in limiting the size of the house to 2,500 square feet. With the addition of a basement, the square footage could balloon to as much as 4,000 square feet.
"If a developer purchases it, they will try and maximize what they can build," said Bill Wishlaw, who pressed council for exact square footage numbers.
Lauren Schmidt recalled speaking to property owners in the past who assured her that the new home they were building would not be higher than the previous house - but when it was finished, it was "at least a storey higher" and ended up blocking the views of other homeowners.
"District staff cannot change the zoning," Bob Sokol, director of planning, told council. "Should council approve this zoning, the height of the building is set."
He noted that any future variance applications would have to be approved by council, and that a covenant placed on the property now, restricting the size and height of the house, would also apply to any future owners.
One option council may consider is limiting the size of the house to around 2,500 square feet, including the basement. It may be a way to "encourage smaller, more tasteful houses," said Mayor Michael Smith.
Selling the lot is part of the District of West Vancouver's practice of creating small lots on "surplus" land. Money made from the sale of these small parcels of property goes to the district's endowment fund for capital projects.
If the land is developed and a house built on it, it would be worth about $2 million and would provide $3,629 in property taxes per year, according to a staff report.