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Prefab homes approved for Niven Lake

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 22/05) - A Yellowknife developer can go ahead with plans to put modular homes on two lots in the Niven Lake subdivision.

The city's development appeal board has decided two building permits granted June 3 can stay in the hands of Homes North.

Viorel Lazar is fighting a Niven Lake developer and City Hall over the quality of homes planned for the subdivision, saying the trailer park-style homes will devalue his own lot in the area. Lazar's appeal of development permits was overturned by the development appeal board last week. Supporter Ian Henderson sits on the right. - Lisa Scott/NNSL photo

Niven Lake lot owner Viorel Lazar was appealing the permits.

John Pelletier, development officer with the city's Planning and Lands Division, defended his decision to issue the permits for the homes in the appeal board meeting last week. The land is zoned to allow single-family homes. Under the building code, modular homes built in a factory in pieces and trucked to a site are allowed.

When asked if the homes meet the code, Pelletier answered "yes."

Arguments went back and forth between Lazar and Homes North owner Les Rocher, while visibly frustrated councillor Alan Woytuik asked for clarifications about the homes.

"We have a very, very good product, top of the line," said Rocher, inviting anyone to come have a look at some of the homes already on site.

He promised that not all 98 lots in the newest phase of the subdivision will be the same model of modular home - one-storey structures that resemble double wide trailers.

"I wish it was a mobile home subdivision, because that is what I like to do," joked Rocher, whose company has developed a number of subdivisions in Yellowknife.

Jim Fraser, a Niven Lake homeowner and supporter of Rocher, said the homes didn't bother him, even though he lived in a "high profile home".

"They are indistinguishable from site-built homes. Everybody can't afford $500,000-$600,000 homes. These units provide affordable housing," he said.

Lazar owns a lot in the newest part of the Niven Lake subdivision, but if plans by the developer to plunk manufactured homes in his new neighbourhood go through, he won't be building anything. "I have to protect my investment and my interest," said Lazar outside the lower boardroom of city hall. "As soon as you enter phase six, the appearance of a trailer park is obvious," he said.

The permits given to Homes North for the homes, which were trucked from Lethbridge to Yellowknife, will cause his future home to lose value, said Lazar.

Lazar wasn't convinced that he wouldn't be living next to a mobile home park after the meeting ended.

He said legal action may be his next step. The Niven Lake subdivision has been plagued by work slowdowns since early 2004.

A development officer stopped work at the site in April, saying the trucked-in units didn't meet building requirements, causing city councillors to push for a zoning change so the developer could continue.

Public uproar over the city's decision was heard at hearings in June, with Niven Lake residents concerned their upscale neighbourhood was becoming a trailer park.