The owners of property at the top of Lanfear Hill now have the city’s blessing to develop a commercial presence there.
But the approval, granted with the passing of a bylaw to change the official community plan and one to rezone the 0.2 hectares July 12, comes with an expectation developers may have to contribute to solving the troublesome traffic pattern at the location.
And that’ll happen when they apply for a development permit which can contain specific provisions listed by the city of what’s needed to ease the impact the development could have on surrounding streets and properties.
The official community plan and rezoning changes were the subject of a public hearing July 12 and then a full council meeting the same night.
The 0.2 hectare location on the southwest corner at the intersection of McConnell and the top of Lanfear Hill, officially called Thomas Ave. by the city, is part of a larger 2.13 hectare parcel edging down Lanfear toward town.
In 2019 its owners sketched out their vision to subdivide the parcel into three pieces, two for townhouse structures and the 0.2 hectare one for a commercial development.
With neighbourhood worries about increased traffic because of the proposed townhouses, the city suspended a public hearing into requested changes to the official community plan and complementary zoning until the property owners paid for a traffic impact study.
The study’s authors termed the intersection as “failing” for eastbound traffic from McConnell and that sightlines then for traffic turning south down Lanfear Hill don’t meet current standards.
In reviewing the study, city engineers determined “a commercial development should not be permitted without a roundabout,” city planning manager Ken Newman noted in a report.
But, he added, the study’s authors also indicated other traffic improvement options, including turning lanes on both McConnell and on Lanfear.
City development services director David Block, in response to a question from mayor Carol Leclerc about the timing of constructing a roundabout, said the intersection is already a problem without further development.
Traffic improvements whether a roundabout or something else might have taken place prior to the development permit application, he said.
“That’s when the determination would be made if the developer needed to make some contribution financial or else physical design or physical alteration to the intersection,” Block said.
A second traffic impact study might also be required at that time based on traffic volume increases due to the commercial development that’s wanted, he added.
Several residents sent in either written objections prior to the public hearing or made oral presentations at the hearing objecting to the development.
As to what might be built on the .2 hectare parcel, the C5 commercial zone secured by the developer permits convenience stores, daycare centres and personal service establishments with the city agreeing to add restaurants and retail stores. The developers will also register a restricted covenant that would not permit a drive-through style restaurant.
“This amended application responds to concerns from area residents and limits potential future commercial uses on this site,” Newman wrote.