To tap into the market for more affordable homes, Red Deer County council has approved zoning changes for tighter house lots.
Council approved what are known as zero lot line properties for three streets in Gasoline Alley’s Liberty Landing on Tuesday.
Standard lot configurations, have four-foot (1.2 metres) side yards on both sides of a home, meaning houses are eight feet (2.4 metres) apart. In a zero lot line development, houses have only one five-foot side yard. The neighbour’s side yard comes up to the side of the adjacent home, effectively leaving five feet between homes.
Shane Stafford, of Stantec, said zero lot line developments have been popular in Edmonton and Calgary for many years.
By slightly reducing the distance between homes, less land is needed for each property, bringing down costs for buyers. More homes can be accommodated into an area as well.
Scott Lamont, senior development manager at Lamont Land Inc., said to ensure consistency, developers typically group zero lot properties together and sell multiple lots.
The homes fill a niche in the market.
“It allows for more homes and a bit more affordability,” said Lamont.
Bedrock Homes applied for the zoning change to meet market demand for zero lot line homes.
“I really like the idea,” said Coun. Jean Bota, noting that the land being considered for zero lot lines were already zoned for townhomes and duplexes.
After getting confirmation that the zero lot properties were a pilot project, Coun. Philip Massier supported the zoning change.
“I think we have to look into the future and what the demands are in these urban settings.”
Coun. Christine Moore questioned whether fires spreading to adjacent homes was a bigger risk on the narrower properties. She was told that building codes require upgraded fire walls between zero lot line properties.
Moore said it was worth trying the concept out.
“I think we’ll see how it goes.,” said Moore. “It has been done before and done successfully.
“Quite frankly, I would prefer this to rows of townhouses.”
Coun. Connie Huelsman agreed. “I really like the look of it better than duplexes or townhouses.”
Red Deer County is not the only central Alberta municipality looking at ways to attract more development.
Innisfail town council voted last month to reduce prices on town-owned lots in the Hazelwood and Napoleon Meadows subdivisions. Lot prices will be reduced by 10 per cent, based on feedback from the town’s listing realtor.
A second initiative is intended to encourage redevelopment in some of the town’s mature neighbourhoods. A proposed Residential Infill Incentive Program is intended to promote the redevelopment of existing residential properties and offer more options to property buyers.
Under the initiative, developers will be able to apply for reimbursement of up to $15,000 of the costs associated with redeveloping existing lots and structures.
“There are some encouraging signs that the real estate market is gaining momentum throughout central Alberta,” said Mayor Jim Romane. “We are taking action now to ensure that Innisfail is prepared to capitalize on any growth opportunities that may arise as a result of increased demand.”