Riverside Meadows residents argue against proposed housing project

Yet another collection of two-bedroom suites is a mighty poor choice for a community that is pleading for more variety, say residents of Riverside Meadows.

Yet another collection of two-bedroom suites is a mighty poor choice for a community that is pleading for more variety, say residents of Riverside Meadows.

On Wednesday, developers and Red Deer city planners held an open house to gauge neighbours’ opinions of a project that would put an 86-unit housing complex on the former site of Harper’s Metals.

Laebon Homes and Polar Developments have formed a partnership to create Riverpointe Crossing Ltd., with plans to build a 24-unit townhouse and a series of eight and 10-unit apartment-style condominiums.

Polar had applied last year for a 65-suite development, but did not follow through with the project.

All units in the updated proposal would be owner-occupied, said Laebon president Gord Bontje.

Aside from being short of parking spaces, the plan is a deep disappointment to area residents who have been working for decades to build more variety into their community, said Kurt Ternes, a former president of the Riverside Meadows Community Association.

The new proposal amounts to more of the same on a prize piece of real estate in the heart of the community, said Ternes.

He wants the developers to bring in a plan that includes more retail, light industrial or professional space, all of which are allowed on the uniquely-zoned site.

“Hit us with your best shot. Don’t come in with the cookie crunchers and leave,” said Ternes.

A special zone was created for the site under a revised redevelopment plan. The plan calls for a wider range of development within Riverside Meadows, said Vicki Swainson, deputy development officer for the city.

Most residents share Ternes’s sentiments, said Marleen Cowan, also a past president of the community association.

While she is concerned with the shortage of parking in the proposal, as defined by the city’s Land Use Bylaw, Cowan also said the neighbourhood needs more variety.

Resident Barb Breau said she also could find no clear need for more of the same type of housing that already exists in the area.

“Let’s build something that we can’t wait to get here. Let’s build something that, 10 years from now, we’re still excited about,” said Breau.

Bontje said the parking issue arose because while he and his partners in the project define the condos as apartments, the city calls them townhouses based on each unit having its own entrance. The Land Use Bylaw requires two stalls per townhouse unit or 1.5 stalls per apartment unit, plus one visitor stall for each five units.

Because the city has classified the condo suites as townhouses, the 159 stalls provide falls 31 short of the requirement, said Swainson.

Input gathered from the open house will be used to guide the city’s development authority in its decision on whether to accept, deny or seek alterations in the proposal, she said.

The final decision will lie with either the municipal planning commission or the subdivision and development appeal board, said Swainson.

People with an interest in the area have been given a deadline of June 4 to submit their thoughts on the proposal.

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