YK appeal board reviews West Bay condo development permit

Plans for new West Bay condominiums on School Draw Avenue might have hit a snag as Yellowknife’s development appeal board reviews the highly contested case.

In a public hearing to the appeal board on Wednesday evening, Kevin and Megan Mindus, whose property backs onto the development site, appealed a permit issued by the city to developer Milan Mrdjenovich in June.

They’ve requested further municipal assessment and consideration of the project.

The site in question at the base of Tin Can Hill has been a source of tension between developers and homeowners in the neighbourhood for years. When another developer proposed a 26-unit apartment block in 2016, residents raised concerns about increased traffic to the area and impacts on nearby property values, reported the CBC.

The plans never got further than city council.

Mrdjenovich purchased the land planning construct two 12-unit condominiums, 24-units in total, intended for families. In previous interviews with Cabin Radio, Mrdjenovich said the development would be good for the city.

However, some residents feel differently. Earlier this year, many accused the developer of premature work on the site without a finalized permit as construction crew cut down trees and leveled the soil.

In July, Mrdjenovich posted pictures of “apparent vandalism” on his Twitter page, the windows of his heavy machinery smashed in. He referred to the incident as “troubling.”

During the appeal hearing, the Mindus’ cited several concerns with the current project, including blocked sunlight, loss of privacy, increased noise and disturbance, and loss of property value.

“There’s no way [Mrdjenovich] could tell me that this is not going to affect my property value,” Kevin Mindus told the appeal board. “We lose our visual and residential amenity. And for the many reasons I already stated, the value of my house will decrease significantly.”

According to Mindus, the house has been in his wife’s family for over four decades.

“This was the home that my parents first bought over 40 years ago when they moved to Yellowknife,” Megan said. “I wasn’t even born yet. I grew up in this house with my four sisters. And when I was able to purchase this property off my parents, my parents were really intrigued to be able to keep it in the family.

“Now me and my sisters share that the trail system with our children. We just ask that you take our family’s 40-year investment into consideration when there’s a wall going up beside our lot.”

Sarah Bercu is the Yellowknife development planning officer who issued Mrdjenovich’s permit in June. During her presentation to the appeal board, she maintained the development is not expected to negatively impact the area.

Bercu cited a traffic study done in the area in 2010, which concluded that increased traffic would not cause issues. A new traffic study was not required for Mrdjenovich’s project, she said.

The approved plan also addresses light concerns, stating intentions to minimize shadows cast by the buildings in the design, according to Bercu.

When asked about the site preparation he did, Mrdjenovich responded: “At the end of the day guys, it’s my land and I’m allowed to take down my trees. I’m allowed to move my dirt round on my site. And that’s what I did.

“I don’t question anybody [else], what they do in their backyards.”

The appeal board now has 60 days to render a verdict and will contact the city, the Mindus’, and Mrdjenovich once they’ve reached a decision.

If they side with the appellants, construction on the condominiums will be delayed for further consideration.