Bylaws    Item #   9. a.            
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 04/09/2018  
Title: C-1036-18 - Second Reading - Land Use Bylaw Amendment - Tonewood Stage 8 and PL - Planned Lot District - Levasseur
Department: Planning & Infrastructure
Where People Choose to Live - A dynamic city with an exceptional quality of life

Request for Decision Summary
The purpose of this Request for Decision is to seek Council's support for second reading for Bylaw C-1036-18 - Tonewood Stage 8 and PL - Planned Lot District.  This amendment to the Land Use Bylaw proposes text amendments to change the name of the GPL - Greenbury Planned Lot District to PL - Planned Lot District and to remove any reference to this district being a pilot project.  The amendment also proposes to redistrict the land area for Tonewood Stage 8 from UR - Urban Reserve to PL - Planned Lot and the land area for Greenbury Stage 9 from GPL - Greenbury Planned Lot to PL - Planned Lot.

Administration is recommending that Council defeat second reading.

Proposed Motion
That second reading be given to Bylaw C-1036-18 - Land Use Bylaw Amendment - Tonewood Stage 8 and PL - Planned Lot District.
In 2016, Beaverbrook Communities requested that the City consider amending its Land Use Bylaw to provide for a new housing product, a zero lot line product.  In June 2017 Council approved an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw to provide for a new land use district, the GPL – Greenbury Planned Lot District, as a pilot project specific to Greenbury Stage 9.  

Within the GPL District, for dwellings with a zero lot line the required side yard setback for one side of the site may be reduced to zero, with an allowance for a 0.30 m eave overhang into the adjacent site.  For the zero side yard dwelling, the other required side yard is increased from 1.2 m (the standard side yard setback in the R1 district) to 1.5 m and this setback area will contain a shared access and maintenance easement so that both dwellings have access to their back yard.  The minimum lot depth was increased from 30 m (R1 standard) to 33.5 m to allow for more yard amenity space.  Because of Safety Codes issues, zero lot line products may only be considered for single and semi-detached dwellings and may not be considered for townhouses.  The GPL district provides a high level of flexibility and allows for traditional single and semi-detached dwellings on narrower lots than allowed for in the R1 – Mixed Low to Medium Density residential.

Notwithstanding the pilot project status of Greenbury Stage 9, Select Engineering has applied, on behalf of Melcor Developments Ltd., for a new land use district called TPL - Tonewood Planned Lot District.  This proposed new district exactly mirrors the GPL - Greenbury Planned Lot District except its general purposes statement does not reflect its status as a pilot project and excludes street oriented row housing as a discretionary use.  

For consistency and to reduce the potential for a proliferation of residential land use districts, administration has drafted the Bylaw C-1036-18 to amend the GPL - Greenbury Planned Lot District rather than create a new district.  The proposed amendments include a change in the district name from GPL – Greenbury Planned Lot to PL – Planned Lot.  Further, at the request of Melcor, the General Purpose statement has been edited to remove any reference to pilot project rather than adding Tonewood Stage 8 as an additional pilot project.  No changes to the permitted or discretionary uses, standards or regulations within the GPL are proposed.  Additional amendments to the Land Use Bylaw are also required to reflect the name change from GPL to PL.

Bylaw C-1036-18 is also proposing to redistrict the lands for Tonewood Stage 9 from UR - Urban Reserve to PL - Planned Lot and the lands within Greenbury Stage 9 from GPL - Greenbury Planned Lot to PL - Planned Lot.
Administration does not support this Land Use Bylaw amendment.  During its review of the proposed GPL District, administration had a number of concerns about the new housing product, but conceded to try a pilot project in order for the City to evaluate the impacts of product on the City, the neighbourhood and the residents.

Administration’s concerns continue to include:
  • on-street parking congestion – there will be inadequate room to have off-site parking where there are front garages so off-site parking will be limited;
  • garbage collection – adequate room for garbage truck maneuvering is reduced and the storage of black and green bins on-site is limited;
  • increased complexity and time lines for application processing potentially impacting staffing levels – additional staff time is necessary to review development permit applications and even with the first few applications, administration has already had concerns with not meeting the City's 28 day application processing target since applications are being submitted that no not meet the regulations;
  • ability of the soils in the area to support the development – soils with the East Pioneer Area Structure Plan area can be wet and hummocky and extra care will need to be taken for basement construction;
  • integrity of footing encroachments and foundation construction – administration is concerned that basement construction on adjacent sites might undermine an existing foundation.  Administration would prefer that basements be constructed in blocks; 
  • compliance with Safety Codes legislation – because of the close proximity of dwellings, it will be essential that the fire separation and requirements between buildings is met;
  • aesthetics of the solid wall face where no glazed openings are permitted – administration is concerned that the exterior walls will not be aesthetically appealing diminishing the look of the neighbourhood;
  • encroachments into the maintenance easement area – if the dwelling’s foundation is built too close the adjacent dwelling, there is no discretion to provide a relaxation since the eaves, etc., won’t meet the Safety Codes requirements and because both neighbours will have access to the 1.5 m separation between dwellings, any encroachment, including meters, will impede this space; and 
  • education of future property owners respecting the maintenance easement area – administration is concerned that future landowners may not understand the access and maintenance easement area between dwellings and the City may be asked to resolve issues between neighbours. 
To date, the Greenbury Stage 9 subdivision was only recently registered and administration has just received the first few development permit applications.  As such, administration believes that it is too early to evaluate this product and the District.  The proliferation of this product into more than one neighbourhood is premature until administration has a better sense of any impacts this product may have.
At the Committee of the Whole Meeting in February, 2018, Melcor Development Ltd. and Qualico Communities made presentations to committee requesting that both developers be permitted to have zero lot line products claiming that the affordability of starter homes within Spruce Grove, relative to the region, would be affected.  Attachment #4, Capital Region - Zero Lot Line Summary, provides an overview of a review of the Land Use Bylaws of the other urban municipalities within the Edmonton region and it was found that only the cities of Edmonton and Leduc (lane product only) and Strathcona County (lane product only) have comparable products (7.6 m lot width with 1.5 m setback); both Beaumont and Morinville allow for zero lot line lots but require a minimum lot width of 10 m for zero side yard lots, which is wider than Spruce Grove's R1 lot standard (9.0 m) in Spruce Grove.  As such, only the City of Edmonton allows for a directly comparable product.

Further, at the COW meeting, Melcor and Qualico suggested that affordability is one of the main drivers for proposing the zero lot line product.  The affordability of a lot is impacted by many factors including lot width since pricing often varies on a per fronting foot basis, but more importantly, affordability is impacted by the input costs of development to the developer.  These costs include the price of the greenfield land, the cost of on-site servicing (i.e., road standards, landscaping, installation of water and sewer lines, streetlights, bus shelters, etc.) and the off-site costs including off-site levies.  These input costs can vary significantly between municipalities.  For example, an excerpt from the City of Spruce Grove Offsite Levy Review, February 9th, 2018 provides a table of offsite levy rates for various municipalities in Alberta (Attachment #5).  The offsite levy within the City of Edmonton is over $300,000 per ha while the levy for the City of Spruce Grove is $86,497 per ha.  Based on the offsite levy costs alone, the input costs in Edmonton are substantially higher than Spruce Grove, so smaller lot widths may have a greater impact on lot costs (affordability) than within Spruce Grove. Although Melcor and Qualico are using City of Edmonton lot costs as a direct comparable to lot costs in Spruce Grove, administration suggests that a direct comparison is limited without an understanding of these input costs relative to the developers' expected profit.  
Council must make the motion for second reading in order to discuss the merits of the bylaw.

However, Administration does not support this amendment and recommends that the motion be defeated at second reading for the reasons outlined in the Background section of this RFD.
The proposed amendment has been circulated internally for other City departments' comments.

A statutory public hearing will take place prior to second reading of the Bylaw.
If approved, the Land Use Bylaw and the Bylaw Map will be updated and posted on the City's website.
Until the City has had the opportunity to determine impacts of the zero lot line product within the Greenbury Stage 9 neighbourhood, the proliferation of the product into other neighbourhoods is premature.

Bylaw C-1036-18 Second Reading
Aerial Overview
ASP Overview
Capital Region - Zero Lot Line Summary
City of Spruce Grove Offsite Levy Review excerpt