A treed property near Bastion Elementary and Good Samaritan Hillside Village is moving quickly towards becoming a 24-unit residential development in the form of seven multi-family buildings.
If approvals are given at the Monday, April 10 council meeting, tree clearing could begin Tuesday.
A development permit application from Uptown Ventures, owners of the property at 2810-15th Ave. SE, was considered at the city’s Monday, April 3 planning meeting. The 2.5 acres or 0.96 hectares under consideration would include one five-unit building, two fourplexes, three triplexes and one duplex. Sixty-four parking spaces would be provided instead of the 36 required, and the site would include a sidewalk and pathway for pedestrian access.
Both city planning staff and city council expressed approval of the plans. The buildings are described by staff as contemporary style with traditional pitched roof lines.
“It’s an excellent development, the drawings are great,” remarked Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, noting they adhere to permit area guidelines including working with existing topography and featuring separate buildings with varied facades and roof lines.
Coun. Alan Harrison expressed a similar view: “We were admiring the drawings prior to the meeting – they’re really well done.”
The developers are requesting a height variance from 10 to 12.2 metres, the full variance affecting only five units in the southeast portion of the plan. Staff explained the height variance is mitigated by the sloping terrain.
Although council voted unanimously in favour of forwarding the plan to the April 10 council meeting (Couns. Ken Jamieson and Louise Wallace Richmond were absent), a second request did not receive everyone’s approval.
The owner’s agent, Jayme Franklin of Franklin Engineering Ltd., requested a change in the usual order of approvals as the owner would like to get on the ground as soon as possible.
“The rezoning and development permit process has gone really quickly and efficiently,” Franklin said. “We would like to push that even further. We would like council to allow us to start work on the property prior to the servicing agreement.”
Until approximately three years ago, Pearson explained, once developers had either their building or development permits approved, as well as a letter giving them preliminary subdivision approval, they could go ahead and start clearing trees.
However, that was changed when a few developers cleared property but then did not proceed with development.
“Then we had issues, certain people were clearing properties with the PLA (preliminary layout approval) and then not following through. The biggest example is up on Mt. Ida.”
That one was a little different, he added, as the land was zoned for agricultural use and the clearing was said to be for agricultural purposes. A far greater number of trees was removed than permitted.
Now, because of concerns about erosion and sediment, the city has been requiring a servicing agreement, which includes an erosion and sediment control plan, before clearing begins.
The developer must provide 125 per cent of the cost of all on- and off-site servicing work (usually a letter of credit), which the city essentially pays back once the work is done.
Coun. Tim Lavery said the city has been working to facilitate the building of more housing, and approving the motion would help the proponent who’s ready to go. Others agreed. Coun. Kevin Flynn asked if the city would have a way to stop things if a servicing agreement doesn’t get signed. Staff told him yes, because without the agreement, the developer wouldn’t be able to get building permits. Franklin said he’s expecting the servicing agreement would be in place within a few weeks.
The majority of council gave preliminary approval to the tree clearing going ahead once the development permit is approved and a landscaping bond is received. That could occur at the Monday, April 9 meeting, with tree clearing beginning April 10.
Coun. Alan Harrison was alone in voting against the early approval, while emphasizing he wants the project built as soon as possible.
“From where I sit, if we do give the right to the developer to clear before the servicing agreement is in place, I don’t think we’ve done our job… We’re picking situations – saying yes to one, no to another.”