Too-tall garage gets go ahead

Anna Del Monte met with her contractor a night after convincing New Westminster council to give her an exception to a bylaw it developed less than three years ago.

They gave it to her after she accumulated overwhelming support from her neighbours, the Glenbrook North Residents Association and other homeowners in the city.

Del Monte wants to tear down the crumbling garage on her property at 901 Second St., and replace it with a two-storey structure with an office on the top floor.

She wants to make room for her aging parents to move onto her property. Her first choice was a laneway house but it isn’t allowed in New Westminster.

Since she works from home she’s proposing to renovate her current office to accommodate them and ask the city to allow her to build one on top of a new garage.

But in 2011, council, in response to complaints about large garages in the city, prohibited two-storey garages or secondary structures higher than 15 feet. Del Monte’s proposal was for 22 feet at its peak.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” said Del Monte on Tuesday. “My contractor is coming over this evening. No time to waste.”

She felt the support she collected both on paper and at a public hearing during Monday’s council meeting.

“Maybe they really listened to what the residents had to say. I gave them everything that they needed. I’m happy with the process. I clearly said I understand why there are bylaws, I get it, but there are certain instances where bylaws are changed and it makes sense.”

In November, although she had received the backing from the residents association along with several letters of support, city staff recommended Del Monte’s application be denied. But council decided to proceed although Couns. Bill Harper and Chuck Puchmayr voted against it because of the precedent it could set.

On Monday, they passed it without comment from any councillor. Prior to the vote, five people spoke up in support including Alana McIntyre, who lives adjacent to Del Monte and whose parents built Del Monte’s home in 1946.

“She’s done an amazing job putting character back into the house and improving the neighbourhood,” McIntyre told council. “I don’t think this will take away from the neighbourhood.”

Del Monte voted to be involved in the city’s upcoming discussion on whether to introduce laneway housing into New Westminster.

“There’s definitely some value,” said Del Monte. “The city can pull the best from the four other municipalities [that allow laneway housing].”

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