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Rezoning denied

Director Riis-Christianson stated, “I can certainly sympathize with the applicant’s desire to have a church of their own and wish them well in their search”
Map of Clearview Dr showing the rezoning of the church. (RDBN Illustration/Lakes District News)

On Aug. 10, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) held their regular meeting.

During the meeting, the board addressed letters from Amanda Ettinger and Kurtis Bjorgan, Linda and Ron Uchacz, and Dave and Crystal Mackereth who are opposed to the zoning bylaw for the purpose of building a church at Clearview Drive.

The letters mentioned the concerns about the amount of traffic which will impact their neighbourhood along with potential impact on their water supply.

The Seventh Day Adventist church has applied for rezoning which will have the capacity to host 100 people within the facility including its own parking space.

The zoning bylaw would allow to build a church, as well as several other uses such as a clubhouse, a community care facility, community recreation, a farmers’ market, school, cemetery and visitor information centre, if the board determine the rezoning application is consistent and supported by the rural residential official community plan (OCP) of Clearview Drive.

Two public hearings were held on June 12 and July 25. In both of the hearings, local residents showed their concerns.

Michael Riis-Christianson, Director of Electoral B said,“I think there’s no denying the fact that the proposed location for rezoning is located on a very narrow steep, curvaceous and a poorly maintained dead end road. While the church may only have less than a dozen members at this time, its certainly being proposed to be constructed for the future and for up to 100 people. After the public hearings and giving us a lot of thought, I can only come to the conclusion that this is not the right location for it. I can certainly sympathize with the applicant’s desire to have a church of their own and wish them well in their search.”

Jeannette Sholander representative of the Seventh Day Adventist said, “This property would be great for building a small church. The members gather once per week, and it would be great to have this property to gather on.”

Burns Lake resident Dominque Doglione said, “Whether the applicants understand the environmental development requirements and safe public street use for neighbouring properties. The property has swamp and hills. A lot of development must take place for any development of any size.”

Doglione also said, “The applicant wants 100 people. Is that 100 cars will the Ministry of Transportation be able to handle it?”

Linda Uchacz another local resident is concerned about water and sewer. She said, “We’ve had a well on the property for 25 years and doesn’t want it jeopardized.”

Local resident Dave Mackereth said, “The fairground traffic is different than church traffic as no one lives between Highway 35 and the fairgrounds. There is a sharp corner near the residence with low visibility and people bike, walk, jog on the road. The church driveway is adjacent to it. Extra traffic is not welcomed.”

Another local resident Justis St. Hilarie said, “It would be unfair if a church went in and taxes were increased.”

Chair Riis-Christianson responded, “We are not able to answer that question, but we are here to hear everyone’s concerns.”

Five local residents attended the first and 30 people attended the second public hearing.

At the Feb. 28, Electoral Area B Advisory Planning Commission (APC) meeting, the board stated, “The APC recommends the Board support the application subject to confirmation that use is limited to a 60-person capacity church through a restrictive covenant. The APC also recommends the applicant engage with the community.”

After several discussions, the board decided not to support the applicant’s request to rezone the bylaw.