A re-zoning application to build four-storey residential buildings around rocky knolls and wetland in the Departure Bay area will go to a public hearing.
At a meeting Monday, Nanaimo city council passed first and second readings of a bylaw to re-zone portions of 3500 Rock City Rd. from low-density residential to medium-density residential.
A staff report notes that the applicant, Hazelwood Holdings Ltd., has “demonstrated the potential to develop 298 units” on the lots. Staff says that number of units on 7.3 hectares, approximately 41 units per hectare, is supported by the official community plan’s neighbourhood designation which supports 10-50 units per hectare.
Jeremy Holm, the city’s director of development approvals, told councillors that re-zoning to medium density would allow for more sensitive site development.
“It allows for a more clustered form of development, the idea being preservation of some of the natural features and addressing some of the topographical challenges on the site,” Holm said.
The staff report notes that the parcel of land contains a 2.9-hectare wetland protected by a covenant stipulating no site disturbance within 15 metres.
Conceptual plans from the developer show underground parking at each building and lot coverage of 15 per cent in a zone where maximum permitted lot coverage is 40 per cent. The report also notes that a 0.7-hectare park will be dedicated along Rock City Road and a public boardwalk trail will be built through the wetland connecting Ocean Pearl Terrace with Rock City Road.
The applicant held a neighbourhood information meeting about a year ago at Departure Bay Activity Centre.
“Comments received from neighbours at the meeting and through correspondence include concerns regarding increased traffic, increased density and loss of wildlife habitat,” the staff report noted.
A traffic impact assessment was attached to the re-zoning application which staff said found “a deficient level of service” at the Uplands Drive-Departure Bay Road intersection during evening peak hours and potentially inadequate service at other times of day within the next three years. The Rock City Road-Departure Bay Road intersection could reach an inadequate level of service by 2033, the assessment found.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong mentioned that she had concerns about traffic, but said she would wait to raise them during the next stage of the re-zoning process.
The first two readings of the zoning amendment bylaw passed first and second readings; a public hearing will be scheduled.