IT took a transformed housing market and a slightly revised building plan, but above all it was the support of nearby property owners that enabled developer Emil Wirtl to win over city council to the idea of granting a zoning amendment for his nine-acre parcel at 5034 McConnell Ave. on the bench.
Two other developers, Jim Almgren and Vance Hadley, attended the public hearing last night to vouch for the fact that subdividing large lots is necessary in Terrace to keep up with housing demand, though Hadley acknowledged the challenges of doing so.
Wirtl also had six residents sign a letter he submitted to the city in support of his plan to seek the bylaw amendment that would change the RR1 rural residential classification to the R1 single family residential, thus enabling him to put in 16 to 20 new building lots.
An attempt by Wirtl in 2012 to subdivide the property was turned down by council in the face of neighbour opposition.
“I am a better prepared this time,” said Wirtl in his address to council. “This time I went to see quite a number of property owners … so I hope to be more successful this time around.”
And successful he was. Council voted to accept the staff recommendation and adopt the amendment to the zoning bylaw Wirtl sought.
Wirtl told council that the two corner lots facing McConnell would have 90 feet of frontage and the others between 72 and 75 feet.
This plan to make the lots larger seemed to please Dave Cater, who lives beside Wirtl’s property, and spoke out against the plan when it was introduced and voted down by council in 2012.
“It’s great that Wirtl said the exact size and that you have a plan to have the property owners involved… that’s what we are after. What is the plan?” said Cater, who may also subdivide, though he wants to keep his property intact.
Beginning to subdivide that area of McConnell and north of it on the bench means neighbours have to work together, mainly because new road access would be necessary, those at the meeting were told.
A network of potential roads was discussed for that area north of McConnell between Kalum Lake Drive and Thomas St.
Both Cater and the other adjacent property owner Wayne Kirby said they are trying to figure how the subdivisions might affect their property and the community.
Kirby said he is still unhappy with the change.
“We bought that property because of the RR1 designation, we like the size of it. Wirtl can do to the property what he wants as long as it fits within the city plan, but what I don’t understand is what is the city plan? … What is the city going to do about traffic flow as that area builds up?”
“Your concerns are certainly those that we are facing as a council as well,” said mayor Dave Pernarowski.
Director of development services David Block said the city is looking to phase out all RR1 zones, which is the zoning for large rural-type parcels, within Terrace to prevent sprawl.
That’s in keeping with Terrace’s Official Community Plan, but that owners of land designated as such would not be forced to subdivide.