City Council has denied a change to zoning in the Southwest Area Structure Plan. The change would have allowed a small commercial business to be built next to a park off of Stone Ridge Way in the Grande Banks area. Some residents of the neighbourhood had attended the Council meeting Monday night to oppose the change including Denika Raech.
“I am actually happy. It was something that the community didn’t want to turn commercial. There is enough commercial in the area already. It was the lesser of two evils.”
Without the change, the zoning allows for up to a four story apartment to be built on it under the Medium Residential label.
Remax Realtor Kevin Vobeyda explains that a home buyer should be comfortable with what other kind of properties could be built around their home. He adds that anytime the city or county does an Area Structure Plan, the zoning is pre-planned and you can never be certain what will go in an area once it is zoned a certain way.
“You know that if it is Medium Density multi-family, there is a possibility of a four story apartment building that could be 100 units or higher depending on the size of the land.”
He warns that home buyers have to be very careful and investigate properties in the area that you plan to buy in. If the zoning is there, whoever buys that land can work within the stipulations of the by-law.
“If the permitted use for land was a four story building, then they can do that without any neighbouring input.”
Mayor Bill Given says it is up to the developer, the city, and the home buyer to keep the information on zoning in an area very open. It is up to the developer or person selling a home to do the work to find out more about zoning if an interested buyer asks. The city is responsible for keeping information public.
“Many neighbourhoods in Grande Prairie are in new and newly developed areas. The field that you see outside the back of your fence might not always be a field. I would encourage residents to visit the city’s website to look at Area Structure plans or Outline plans.”
He adds that the developer and land owner have a valid interest in the future phases of a neighbourhood to ensure that they get return on their investment. At Monday night’s council meeting, there was a conflict between the resident’s vision for the neighbourhood and what the developer had in mind for selling in the future.
“I think last night was a perfect of example of the process working. The developer had to apply in a public forum and we got to hear all sides of the story.”
Area Structure plans are available on the city’s website for the pubic to view.