thumb cityhallpermit2Calgary’s appeal board decides against renewal of home occupancy permit after complaints

A dispute between neighbours and complaints of excessive traffic has led to the refusal of a Home Occupation Permit, hindering one woman’s weekly art classes.

After the initial denial for renewal of the permit, from the City’s Development Authority, Valentin Ivanov presented one last case to the Subdivision and Development Appeals Board on Jan. 17, 2013.

With the appeal, Ivanov was hoping his wife Ekaterina Ivanov would be able to resume her tri-weekly art classes from the basement of their McKenzie Lake home.

Objections from neighbours regarding excessive traffic were cited as the main reason behind the refusal of the permit.cityhallpermitThe driveway of the cul-de-sac that prompted the complaints.

Photo courtesy of SDAB Report/Valentin Ivanov

On Nov. 14, 2012, Melanie Robinson, with Development and Building Approvals contacted the Ivanovs with news that their permit would not be reissued.

In a follow up email she wrote “When a home occupation is causing troubles for the neighbours, and the neighbours take the time to write or call the City it is clear there is a problem.”

The Ivanovs were previously granted a Home Occupation Permit for the art classes for the period of one year. Their permit expired on Sept. 28, 2012 and after receiving a reapplication request on Oct. 15, 2012, the renewal process was promptly started.

Ivanov asked Robinson for clarification on the reason for refusal, other than neighbours calling with complaints.

He wrote that while some people treat public space as their own backyard, “we feel morally and materially victimized and we suspect that the reason for our neighbours behaviour is prejudiced attitude towards minorities and their kids — who are most of our students.”

Ivanov repeated this suspected prejudice in his report and presentation to the appeals board.

Teressa Kujat was the first neighbour with an objection to the permit. Kujat sent an email to Robinson with complaints about the number of visitors at the Ivanov’s residence.

She wrote to Robinson on Oct. 12, 2012, after the Ivanov’s permit had expired, with visitor numbers. She counted 19 in one week, and six at one time. Kujat reiterates that this was in violation of what Robinson said was allowed in the permit, four students per day, and 11 a week.

On Jan.17, Ivanov appeared before the board. There were three emails from neighbours from Jan. 13 2013 with objections to the permit provided with the report.

The neighbour’s objections included:

  • Though I cannot cite any specific incidents, we worry for the safety of our children …. We are happy for the success our neighbours have had with their home business, but we don’t believe that their home is an appropriate location.
  • I absolutely oppose this permit. I am very angry at some of the incidents that have happened with their customers. The amount of vehicles that come in and out of the cul-de-sac due to this business have at times endangered my children and myself.
  • [suggestion of prejudice from business owner] is morally offensive and character defaming considering that we have many friends from different cultures and we do not know who or what nationality their customers are and nor do we care.

cityhallpermit2Art produced in the Ivanovs’ classes was proudly displayed in exhibitions.

Photo courtesy of SDAB Report/Valentin IvanovNo objecting neighbours attended the appeals meeting.

At the meeting, Ivanov expressed disbelief and disappointment that his neighbours felt they must put his wife’s business, “something that we consider so innocent,” under surveillance.

He expressed his feeling of sadness that he was not aware objections from neighbours and that they resulted in loss of his wife’s business.

This unawareness was confirmed in an email to Robinson on Nov. 16 from the Development Compliance Instructor that the applicant did not receive any warning or contact from the City.

In an investigation, according to the inspector, the applicant was found to be complying with the rules of the Home Occupation Permit.

In response to the claim that there were 19 visits in one day, Ivanov says that this was for a birthday party.

“Does it mean that I am not allowed to have guests in my house for celebration purposes?” he said.

Ivanov said there was one isolated incident involving a particular adult class that resulted in excessive cars parking in the cul-de-sac. He says that any further issues could be avoided with the cancellation of the adult class, allowing the children’s class to continue on Tuesday and Saturday.

Produced by: Jessica Ryan

In response to the suggestion that the business be moved to a commercial space, Ivanov says that the rent is too expensive as the classes only bring in 20 to 35 dollars per person for two- or three-hour lessons.

The board ultimately denied Invanov’s appeal. Reasons for the decision were not yet available from the City of Calgary at time of publishing.

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