Business Items    Item #:   4. b.            
Committee of the Whole Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 10/19/2020  
Title: Planning Process Change for Redistricting Applications - Nalavde
Presenter: Pankaj Nalavde
Department: Planning & Infrastructure
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Request for Decision Summary
The purpose of this report is to provide Council with Administration's report on the Planning Task Force's recommended planning process change that would allow residential redistricting applications to get bylaw approval prior to signing a Development Agreement. 

Proposed Motion
That the presentation on the proposed planning process change affecting residential redistricting applications be received as information.
Spruce Grove’s planning process for redistricting applications is informed by Policy 7,005 (2002), and it requires that prior to third reading the City must receive a signed Development Agreement (DA) for the associated subdivision. Urban Development Institute - Spruce Grove (UDI) committee's criticism of this process pertains to the upfront cost and time that developers have to expend on detailed engineering design required under the DA, and cost of securities, before a redistricting approval is granted.

Planning and Development was directed by the Planning Task Force to change the City’s current planning approval process for redistricting applications to address UDI's request to separate the redistricting process from the subdivision and DA process. Administration reviewed this request, conducted a review of other planning practices in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board (EMRB) region, and consulted with the development industry to identify process alternatives. Administration agrees that the process change may be supported where the current standard of planning information for redistricting applications is bolstered, and for improving overall process efficiencies.  The following sections analyze the key findings resulting from a review of the proposed planning process change.

Introduction of Outline Plan and Engineering Brief requirements
An Outline Plan and Engineering Brief (OP+EB) is a document created to assemble and confirm planning and engineering details regarding land use, natural areas, open spaces, pedestrian mobility, roads, and infrastructure. Where Administration currently utilizes the information from Area Structure Plans (ASP), subdivision applications and DAs to confirm density and engineering feasibility to support residential redistricting, the revised process will be based on planning and engineering details contained within the OP+EB. 

The advantage to the City is that the OP+EBs will provide sufficient and reliable information on how the neighborhood will develop (i.e. land use configuration, density, transportation and servicing networks, and connectivity to amenities including parks and natural areas), to support approving future land uses at the redistricting stage. The advantage to the development industry is that it offers increased flexibility for marketing redistricted lands and flexibility in subdivision design to react to market conditions.  While there is effort associated with the preparation of the OP+EB, the developers will not have to expend time and cost on preparing detailed engineering design at the subdivision stage.

Process Efficiencies 
The proposed process change will separate redistricting from the subdivision and DA process. This will reduce the time required to approve redistricting applications, where currently the approval of redistricting applications hinges on the approval of subdivision applications and DAs that in some cases are taking as long as two years to receive third reading.

OP+EBs provide the necessary framework for future subdivision and infrastructure planning. This reduces the processing times for subdivision application review where the applications are consistent with the approved OP+EB. Under the proposed process DAs will become a condition of subdivision approval, with the applicants having up to one year to meet the conditions of the subdivision approval or seek extension per the Municipal Government Act.  This will bring the City's process in alignment with most other local municipalities.

Flexible Zoning
The City adopted the use of flexible zoning for greenfield residential development in the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) in 2012.  Under the flexible zoning concept, each district allows for a range of developments  with varying densities. Under the current process, the development type and density are confirmed through the subdivision application. The proposed process change will not impact the flexible zoning system as the development type and density information currently confirmed through subdivision applications will be confirmed through the OP+EB instead.

Addition of a new High Density Residential District
The City currently sets density targets for land use in new neighborhoods through Area Structure Plans (ASP), implemented through a corresponding land use district in the City's Land Use Bylaw (LUB). In most new neighborhoods there are currently two use categories, being Low to Medium Density Residential and Medium to High Density Residential. In order for LUB to ensure implementation of ASP density targets, density requirements in the LUB should match the density targets upon redistricting.

Density targets for Low to Medium Density Residential areas in approved ASPs, are closely matched with the corresponding density requirements in the R1 Low to Medium Density Residential District, ranging from 25 to 30 units per net residential hectare, which results in successful implementation of low to medium density residential developments. On the other hand, density targets for Medium to High Density Residential areas in the ASPs range from 40 to 118 units per hectare, which do not correspond to the minimum density requirement of 40 units per hectare in the LUB. To address this gap in density targets, Administration is recommending the introduction of a new district for high density residential areas with a higher minimum density target in the range of 80 – 90 units per hectare.

Certainty of Development Timing
Under the new process, there may be less certainty as to the timing of development, and that will cloud the collection of developer contributions and offsite levies. The new process may also create a scenario where the City could create an oversupply of redistricted land for speculative purposes, or the need for developers to come back to the City to address future changes in market needs.

To address speculative districting and other concerns, Administration is recommending a Market Needs Assessment to support an application where developers are intending to redistrict large areas of land at one time.
Council may provide feedback to inform Administration's recommendations on implementing the proposed planning process change.
Administration has completed two rounds of consultation with UDI on  Administration's needs to support the proposed planning process change. The proposed process change has received support by UDI. There may be further consultations prior to finalizing the detailed requirements for the proposed OP+EB and the LUB amendments.
In order to implement the proposed planning process change, Administration will be undertaking the following actions:
  • Rescind current Policy 7,005 Information Requirements for Redistricting Bylaws;
  • Changing the requirements for future redistricting applications for residential developments in new growth areas to be based on comprehensive OP+EB;
  • Amending the Land Use Bylaw to reflect new requirements supporting redistricting applications for residential areas and the mapping system; and,
  • Adopt a new Procedure outlining the proposed planning process change
Redistricting applications that are applied for prior to rescinding policy 7,005 will continue to be processed under the current requirements. Future redistricting applications for new growth areas, will follow the revised process and prepare an OP+EB to support residential redistricting applications.

Process Change Review Summary Report.