A push among civic leaders and Glendale residents to see only single family homes on a triangular piece of property is disappointing, says the land developer.
Ray Watkins is wondering whether he should agree to a land swap with the City of Red Deer because Councillor Tara Veer and others are seeking R1 zoning, or single family homes, for the parcel along 59th Avenue. The proposed development would see the City of Red Deer take over the top third of the property and use it as park.
The city-owned parcel is undeveloped and contains a stand of trees. The privately owned land is where the former Dentoom’s greenhouse used to be and contains open space, treed areas and an occupied house.
Council postponed a decision on Monday on amending the Glendale Northwest Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan, the accompanying land use bylaw, as well as approving the land swap. The issue will return to council on April 18.
“I’d really like to do the land swap but we have the land under contract right now,” said Watkins. “Economically, the project has to work. We started off with 64 units at one point and we’ve pared it down and pared it down. We’re really questioning whether we’re going to go ahead and purchase the land.”
Veer said she supported the land exchange because she hoped it would bring about a great park for the neighbourhood. But she doesn’t support the latest plan because residents had thought it would be single family housing all along.
Last year, council scrapped Watkins’ proposal that called for about 41 dwelling units — an apartment with up to 16 units, 10 duplexes and four single family lots. Last month, Watkins came forward with a new plan that looks at developing about 35 dwelling units — up to five single family homes and 30 half-duplexes (in 15 duplex buildings).
He said the land has been long vacant and during that time, no one came forward to develop it under the existing area structure plan that calls for R1 zoning.
“We’re a little disappointed but hopefully we’ll work with administration and council on a solution that makes everybody happy,” said Watkins later.
During Monday’s public hearing into the proposed amendments, neighbours spoke against the latest plan.
Victoria Macpherson said there are a number of “lower income” homes in the area so she wondered how the duplexes would upgrade the area.
“There would be too many families within a very small area,” she said.
Audrey Williams said residents in the area are still unhappy with the proposal. She noted 59th Avenue is already lined with parked vehicles.
“Why can’t we have green space, a dog park? Why do we need a row of houses?” she asked.