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Judge rejects West Van homeowner's attempt to halt neighbour's construction

The West Vancouver waterfront property owner asked the court to halt the building of a new home on an adjacent lot

A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has rejected a West Vancouver property owner’s attempt to stop his neighbours from building a house next door to his own waterfront home north of Horseshoe Bay.

According to court documents, more than two decades ago, the District of West Vancouver issued a permit dividing a steep waterfront lot in the Sunset Beach neighbourhood into two properties.

Further permits in 2012 granted permission for the building of two similar homes – designed by the same architect – at both 8540 Citrus Wynd and the neighbouring property at 8520 Citrus Wynd.

In later years, a home was built at 8540 Citrus Wynd and eventually sold to owner Philipp Blanke.

A real estate listing from 2016 described the “brand new custom built” luxury five-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom, 5,800-square-foot waterfront home as having “panoramic unobstructed ocean and mountain vistas.”

But when David and Deborah Wolfin applied for a permit to build their dream home on the neighbouring lot, seeking an increase in the building height and number of storeys permitted and a decrease in the property’s front yard setback, their neighbour objected.

At one point, according to court documents, Blanke asked his neighbours the Wolfins to change their building plans to minimize the impact of shade on his property, but they refused.

Blanke eventually went to court, seeking an order quashing the development permit issued by the municipality and asking for an interim injunction to prevent his neighbours from building on their property.

Blanke then argued his case on a few technical grounds about how the permits and been issued and amended and by whom, saying proper process hadn’t been followed and the impact on his property hadn’t been properly considered by the District of West Vancouver.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Thomas, however, didn’t agree, saying in a written decision that Blanke was aware when he bought his property that a development permit had already been issued for the property next door.

Thomas noted neighbours within 50 metres of the proposed home had been notified before the permit was issued in 2018 and none of the landowners – including the previous owner of Blanke’s home – had objected.

Thomas said the Wolfins had been trying to build their retirement home since 2017 and have incurred costs of more than $900,000 in consulting fees, permits and site work required prior to the construction of their home.

The judge added that Blanke’s main concerns about his neighbour’s house are the impact it might have on “his horticultural interests and his enjoyment of his home.”

But the judge said while those are legitimate concerns, neither of them concern the district’s development permit area guidelines.

BC Assessment listed the value of Blanke’s property at more than $6.5 million in 2023, while the Wolfins’ lot next door was assessed at $2.6 million.