The Regional District of Nanaimo board rejected an application for development permit for a gasoline service station located at the site of the former pub and liquor store in Coombs. — Elaine Miller photo

Variances denied for Coombs gas station after public input

RDN board votes against staff recommendation to grant permit

The regional district board denied an application for variances to a development permit for a gasoline service station to be constructed in the Coombs area.

The Regional District of Nanaimo board weighed in on the issues and concerns presented by residents living around the location of the proposed gas station, which is at 2484 Alberni Hwy. in Electoral Area F.

Among the issues raised are the potential for light pollution, contamination of groundwater, and noise.

The applicant requested variances to the sign regulations, the front lot line setback, and watercourse setback. A lamp standard is also proposed within the watercourse setback, and two additional fascia signs to be mounted on the service station canopy.

The proposed gas station, which was the location of the former pub and liquor store in Coombs, has residential houses on both sides as well as across Highway 4A.

Elaine Miller, in her presentation at the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 27, expressed her objections to the variances that would see setback requirements for watercourses be adjusted from 8 metres to 3.3 metres for the proposed freestanding sign and also from eight metres to seven metres for the proposed lamp standards. She said there is a bylaw in place that has been in effect for many years and is adhered to by other businesses in the area.

Miller pointed out that in late October last year, excavation of the property was undertaken with surveyors and engineers present. A curbing was built, Miller said, which was referred to as “built curbing.”

“Someone must have known about the eight-metre setback bylaw,” said Miller, who added that, “if the Regional District of Nanaimo grants this variance they will be setting a precedent for anyone in Area F to do what they wish then ask for permission, or a variance, after the deed is done.”

Miller said residents have already endured intrusions of car headlights glaring into their house windows when the property was turned into a pub and liquor store. They also had to deal with the bright lights mounted on the building. She said the lighting proposed for the gas station will make it worse for them.

“This property will look like Las Vegas at night,” Miller said.

Another resident, Nathen Greene, asked directors why they think it’s OK to change the established setbacks.

He pointed out that in the past, the RDN failed to listen to the residents.

“We had a petition 93 per cent against the relocation of the Frontiersman Pub to 2484 Alberni Hwy., signed, dated and with their address of residence, all local people in our Coombs community,” said Greene. “Yet the RDN submitted a petition in favour to the Liquor Control Board.”

Greene stressed that, “this is Coombs, not Nanaimo. Put yourself in our shoes for once. If you allow this business to change the rules, you will open the door for others down the road, literally.”

The board voted against staff recommendation to endorse the variances and denied the development permit.

Send story tips to: michael.briones@pqbnews.com

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