Red Deer city council was urged not to hamper the development potential of a large, newly subdivided downtown property by tying a height restriction to this land.
The property in question is directly south of the Sierra Grande adult condominium complex, between 48th and 49th Avenues and south of 45th Street.
It used to be the north-side parking lot of the Baymont Inn and Suites (formerly Red Deer Lodge) but was recently subdivided into its own lot.
Owners of the Baymont retained the parking lot to the south of the building for the use of their hotel/apartment patrons.
The subdivided lot, which stands between the hotel and the Sierra Grande condos, was recently put on the market. It’s the largest parcel of undeveloped land available in downtown Red Deer, according to co-owner Shaz Bharwani.
As it’s zoned C-1, Bharwani said it should not be tied to a height restriction since other C-1 properties do not have this limitation on their development.
A four-storey limit was imposed on the property by the municipal development commission in 2018 when the Baymont Inn and Suites first applied to subdivide. At the time, Sierra residents raised concerns about a possible high-rise being developed that would impinge on their privacy and block out light.
After reviewing Bharwani’s concerns, Red Deer city planners concurred that the height restriction is unfair and punitive. They recommended city council defeat this bylaw.
But on Monday, the majority on city council approved first reading of a bylaw that retains the four-storey height limitation.
Like several other councillors, Lawrence Lee said he wanted to spur a public hearing on the issue to hear from affected residents. This will be scheduled in four weeks.
Bharwani was unimpressed by council’s vote. He said city council supposedly wants to encourage high-density downtown development but then hampers it with such a move.
Developers get more value for their land investment by being able to build upwards, the property owner added.
Councillors Ken Johnston, Frank Wong and Buck Buchanan had tried to defeat the height restriction.
Johnston reasoned that any proposal of more than four storeys would require MPC approval, which means area residents would be consulted anyway.
Height is only one aspect of a development, added Johnston. He noted how close a new structure is built to neighbours, and how it’s designed and landscaped are important factors that could help create a pleasing view and mitigate a sense of privacy loss.