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Lot changes required before Lunenburg B&B can expand

by Robert Hirtle

 LUNENBURG - Parking-related issues have thrown a bit of a curveball at a Lunenburg bed and breakfast owner who wishes to increase the number of rooms available for rent in his establishment from three to four.

 Lorne Johanson, proprietor of Alicion Bed and Breakfast, 66 MacDonald Street, made application for the change to council early this summer.

 In keeping with the current municipal planning strategy, such a change requires approval by council of a development agreement.

 Under the land-use bylaw, Mr. Johanson is required to provide five off-street parking spaces, each measuring 10 feet in width and 20 feet in length. However, since the change is being considered under a development agreement, council had the option of either increasing or decreasing those requirements.

 The existing parking lot for Mr. Johanson's establishment borders Tupper Street and consists of two paved spaces in front of his garage with 6'8" in length located on his lot and the balance of the spaces situated on the town's edge-of-street right-of-way.

 Mr. Johanson proposed the three additional spaces which are required under the land-use bylaw be located adjacent to the existing spaces, which would result in 13'4" of each space located in the town's Tupper Street right-of-way.

 A study by Cpl. Rob Lewis, the town's traffic authority, resulted in a recommendation being forwarded to the planning advisory committee (PAC) that, while the two existing spaces can form part of the required parking, the three new proposed spaces should be located 10 feet from the travelled portion of the street "in order to mitigate potential hazards, to achieve orderly traffic movement and minimize any liability challenges."

 In his report, Cpl. Lewis pointed out that having vehicles parked 10 feet from the edge of the street would allow for "an unobstructed sight triangle" to the travelled portion of the street which would otherwise be obstructed by the back end of other vehicles parked in the lot.

 At a public hearing held on the matter last week, PAC chairman Councillor Peter Zwicker made a motion on behalf of his committee that went against the recommendations of the traffic authority, moving that the application be approved under Mr. Johanson's parking proposal.

 While he appreciated the effort put into the report by the traffic authority, Councillor Zwicker said that traffic in the neighbourhood "is negligible," an opinion shared by Councillor Myra, who called the area "a very quiet street, one of the least-used streets in the New Town area."

 Despite the recommendation, the motion was defeated in a tie vote, with Councillors Zwicker and Jamie Myra as well as Mayor Laurence Mawhinney voting in favour and Deputy Mayor David Dauphinee and councillors Robert Parks and Heather-Anne Getson voting in the negative.

 After some discussion on the matter, which brought to light that on-street parking is permissible in the area except during winter snowstorms, Councillor Zwicker reintroduced a second motion that the application be approved, based on the existing on-site parking at the establishment and the availability of on-street parking.

 That motion was also defeated in a tie vote, leading to a third motion that recommended Mr. Johanson be allowed to proceed under the recommendations of the traffic authority.

 When asked if he would accept that recommendation, if passed, Mr. Johanson said he did not understand why the three new parking spaces had to be deeper on his property than the existing two which are, in fact, situated on his driveway.

 He said complying with the traffic authority's recommendation would force him to remove part of his garden for parking spaces, something he preferred not to do.

 "If I'm forced into a corner, I'll do the bidding, I suppose, but I don't want to dig up my garden for something that doesn't make sense," he said.

 The third motion passed with Councillor Myra voting in the negative.

 Mayor Laurence Mawhinney said Mr. Johanson would be "entirely within his rights" to apply a second time for a development agreement under his proposed terms at a future date.

 With municipal elections just weeks away and two of the councillors who voted against his proposal not re-offering, it is possible a new council may be inclined to support his application.

 The mayor said he did not anticipate a division of opinion on the matter and called the debate on the issue "very free-wheeling.

 "I guess it's like a town hall meeting where you have the applicant and the staff and the council members going back and forth, but maybe that's the way local government is intended to work," he added.

posted on 10/07/08
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