By Trevor Busch
Rezoning a parcel of property on 56th Avenue to High Density Residential (HDR) has been denied by town council due to concerns regarding the setback required under that zoning designation.
At their Oct. 14 meeting, council voted unanimously to defeat Bylaw 14-2014 on second reading. Previously on Sept. 8, council passed first reading of Bylaw 14-2014. If passed, Bylaw 14-2014 would have rezoned a Residential Condominium district (RC) on 56th Avenue to a High Density Residential district (HDR), to allow for the construction of row housing rather than the original plan to build residential condominiums. Prior to the regular council meeting on Oct. 14, a public hearing was held on Bylaw 14-2014 to hear any presentations or submissions by affected parties. There were no written submissions for or against the proposed bylaw, but there were oral submissions from the gallery.
“The area proposed for a bylaw change is directly north of my property. My biggest concern, aside from the increase in density and how that might affect property values — is the change in minimum yard set back,” said area resident Nicole Rasmussen, at the public hearing. “If you notice, this development doesn’t include an alleyway, and the change in minimum setback from the Residential Condominium that it is currently to High Density Residential is a change of six metres to three metres. Without an alley, that means that those buildings could be within 10 feet of my backyard. I think that’s of grave concern to myself and my neighbours.”
A representative of the landowner and developer responded to this challenge at the public hearing, indicating the planned development could be modified to include setbacks more acceptable to local residents.
During the regular council meeting following the public hearing on Oct. 14, Coun. Joe Strojwas asked if the current bylaw could be modified to increase the required setback for a proposed property under an HDR designation.
“Unfortunately, not really,” said planning manager Cory Armfelt. “If this bylaw goes through the High Density Residential designation, it becomes very difficult for us to impose a higher standard, if it is written in that bylaw what the standard is.”
Armfelt went on to note attempting to modify Bylaw 14-2014 at the present meeting without following due process would not be a proper approach.
“Not in this process right now. We would have to have another public hearing. If you want to change that setback from three metres to five metres, there’s an opportunity to do that, but there’s a process to be gone through, and you need to allow the public come speak with regard to that new information if they have a concern. To just take it mid-stream and make a change right now would not be recommended.”
Coun. Andrew Prokop advocated letting the bylaw die on the order papers which would give opportunity to formulate a more properly fitting bylaw amendment to suit the needs of the developer as well as area residents.
“I think we’re at a bit of a crossroads dilemma. We can’t go forward with this bylaw. So we basically have to squelch this, let it die, and start over with another bylaw change.”
Coun. Randy Sparks warned if council approved the bylaw as presented, a developer would only have to pay lip service to the desire for an increased setback, and would not be bound under any legal obligation.
“Because High Density Residential says three metres, regardless of what was said here by the representative, he doesn’t have to change the frontage or anything like that. He’s saying he would, but he doesn’t have to, if this HDR is passed. He could say the bylaw says three metres, so that’s all I’m going to do, and he’s well within his right to do that.”