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Coalhurst town council discuss Structure Plan amendment

Posted on April 20, 2022 by Sunny South News

By Kenyon Stronski
Sunny South News

A proposed amendment to the Greenwood Estates Area structure plan passed through Coalhurst council’s hands at their April 5 regular meeting relating to expanding driveways. 

“I wanted to go through the proposed amendment we have for the Greenwood Area Structure Plan (ASP). I have prepared a report for council that’s in your package, but I”m just going to quickly go through it, get some highlights on it I know maybe not everyone has done a bylaw amendment yet and I’ll kind of run you through the process of why we’re doing it and some tips as we go through the process,” began Town Planner Diane Horvath. 

“So, again the town has received an application to amend the existing Area Structure Plan known as Greenwood Area Structure Plan or ASP which is Bylaw 389-17 and it’s on lands legally known as Lot 1 Block 15 Plan 061436, so that is the largest 10-acre block that was subject to the area structure plan in which then the lots were created from there. Just to provide council with an overview of the ASP. The ASP proposed to subdivide and develop approximately 53 single unit residential lots ranging in size from 40 to 46 feet in width and about 112 to 115 in depth. Again the land was rezoned to small-lot residential to accommodate proposed lot sizes under 390-17 just after the Area Structure Plan was adopted,” continued Horvath. 

“What’s being proposed is the applicants wish to amend specific sections of the area structure plan for the purpose of accommodating an existing oversized driveway at 348 Greenwood Place. The landowner was unable to obtain a waiver for the requirements of the statutory plan because the statutory plan limits the width of a driveway to a maximum of 5.5 metres. Some preliminary comments, Section 6-33 is the section of the Municipal Government Act that tells us what we can do for an area structure plan. It provides an opportunity for municipalities to create a framework for the development of an area of land through the creation of that area structure plan. So there are some implications to increasing the hard surfacing on the 53 lots which will need to be considered. Council may wish to consider requiring the applicant to provide an updated Stormwater Management Plan to support their application. In addition, there could be impacts to on-street parking. If every driveway is widened there should be that consideration moving forward. I don’t have any more planning comments at this time, there could be additional comments as we put this out to the public,” explained Horvath. 

She then added that any amendment of a statutory plan requires three readings of a bylaw alongside a mandatory public hearing — stating, “Under section 6-92 it indicates that if council is either passing a new planning document or amending an existing planning document they must hold a public hearing. Section 2-30 of the MGA lays out how and when to hold a public hearing and how a public hearing has to be conducted.”

Horvath also added that it would be a good idea for council to not do any research on their own, and to not talk to any citizens should the amendment go to a public hearing; stating it is crucial all of council knows the same information and they go to the hearing with an open mind. 

Deputy Mayor Heather Caldwell had the first question. “Just for clarity, when the initial development was proposed they requested small-lot residential and so we brought that into a bylaw. So now they’re requesting they would like to have this amended so it’s no longer considered small lot residential for the purpose of the driveways?”

“It would still be small-lot residential,” confirmed Horvath. “What would happen is that we would amend this bylaw to say ‘you can have 19-foot driveways.’ We’ll amend the figure attached to the bylaw itself and then when a waiver would come forward to the Municipal Services Development Agency we’d look at the bylaw and say well it says 18 feet so we can still apply for a waiver. The issue we’re having is our higher-level document says the reason we support the 18-foot driveways, we have a parking plan, drainage plan and everything is based on a certain percentage of site coverage and so when we change that, that may change the amount of runoff that happens. So it may affect the storm plan and that’s one option. I guess the question you have to look at is you’re not doing it for one person, you’re doing it for 53 lots and that has a bigger impact. That would be a consideration at the public hearing as to whether or not you’d approve that amendment, is there any detriment.”

Caldwell then asked if it would be allowed for council to find out why the initial waivers were refused so they could see the thought process. 

Horvath noted that it is public information, but would suggest that it is because the statutory plan says the maximum driveway says 18. 

“So, are we bound to proceed forward with this?” asked Caldwell. 

“I’d say you kind of are,” responded Horvath. “Because right now you have no information but if you do you’ll actually get that feedback. There’s a fee associated but you’re paying for the process, you’re not paying for an outcome.”

Coun. Jesse Potrie was next up for questions, “I think it’s all well and good to talk about the process. I feel that we should put as much burden on the applicant as reasonable, including the stormwater management update.”

Caldwell voiced her agreement, “and I would say to reword because I wouldn’t say it’s placing a burden upon them, but it’s a responsibility because initially when we went into this project we provided a lot of opportunity for them to put in these small lots so I would say perhaps it’s more about responsibility. We had to be careful to have a good water management plan and parking plan and if they’re looking to change those things with these amendments then they should provide us updated plans just to make that viable.”

Coun. Scott Akkermans then asked the next question, inquiring into how big of a can of worms it may be if the entire neighbourhood decides to expand their driveways. 

“And that’s something they have to think about too,” said Horvath. “If two-thirds want to go wider, and if there’s a certain width they want to go to then they need to understand they may need to dig a bigger storm pond and take on that responsibility. Anything and everything is possible. It’s just at what cost and who’s to bear that cost and whether or not they want to dig up the storm ponds and redo the whole thing. That may be a burden that two extra feet on a driveway may not be worth.”

Caldwell then added, “I think it’s really important to note that any of our land-use bylaws in relation to permeable versus non-permeable surfacing is really all about water management. We have had incidents in the past where we have been sandbagging areas and of course we’re getting more extreme weather patterns and that’s something we really have to pay attention to.”

A motion was then started by Coun. Deborah Florence provided the first reading, which was passed unanimously. 

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