The builder of a house on Murano Cove has applied for a variance upon discovering a covered porch, that has already been built, is too close to the neighbouring property. 

The variance application is asking Steinbach City Council to allow a side-yard setback of 2.05 feet instead of the 4-foot setback required for single-family homes. 

Builder Harry Pankratz appeared before council during a public hearing on Tuesday noting they only realized the mistake during final landscaping. 

“This got missed from the very beginning because that front porch was not on the site plan, we only had the basement corner on the site plan and not this porch. I guess this was missed and the way we applied for a permit, we didn't have that on there.” 

Paul Boxhorn owns the neighbouring property and objected to the variance request citing issues with curb appeal, property values and fire safety. He notes if the two buildings are too close he may have trouble getting fire insurance in the future. 

Council had a number of questions for both the applicant and administration as they attempted to make a decision. Councillor Michael Zwagstra asked Pankratz if it would be possible to bring the house under compliance without a variance. 

Pankratz notes it would require a structural change adding “part of that porch would have to go and also the roof which is now sitting on that post. I guess it is possible because that basement is still four feet from the setback. Is it going to help the curb appeal? I don't think much.” 

Following considerable back and forth, Councillor Jake Hiebert moved to deny the request, however, without a seconder, the motion failed. 

Councillor Damian Penner then made a motion to table the discussion until the next council meeting on August 16th so that council could follow up on Paul Boxhorn's concerns.  

“There were concerns that were brought up in regards to fire and fire safety. I feel like there needs to be a report made, that needs to be explored. The safety of a neighbouring property should be of utmost concern.” 

Though Jake Hiebert supported this motion, he reminded council that he had previously objected to a similar variance on safety grounds as it may be challenging for emergency services to access the rear of the property if the house is built too close to the line.  

Councillor Michael Zwaagstra also supported the motion adding “This just illustrates the difficulty of after-the-fact variance requests because it puts us in a very difficult position.” 

A decision will be made on August 16th.