Narrow residential lots could go without lanes

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Two public meetings on lane access for narrow residential lots went virtually unnoticed last Thursday, with only three attendees in the afternoon and none in the evening.

The meetings were requested by council on April 24 to get public feedback on a request from Highlands developers to allow narrow residential lots (R2N) without lane access.

Current town bylaws require R2N lots to have back lane access, and prohibit them from having garages, driveways or vehicle parking at the front of the units.

While the provision for this lot type already exists, the Highlands development will be the first use in Olds. Regardless, the proposed bylaw amendment would apply to the entire town, and would allow future developments to create narrow lots with no lane access.

Kimberly Soutiere, municipal planner for the town, said the purpose of the meetings was to gauge the public’s opinion of the non-laned version of the already small lots. She said that while the afternoon attendees were a fairly uniform group ñ people who live in the same type of housing in the same area ñ the feedback has not been overly positive.

Concerns amounted to aesthetics, including unattractive rows of garages, lots of vehicles parked in driveways, and garbage and recycling containers in front of the houses. Some also worry that smaller, more affordable housing would draw more renters.

The town’s community facilitator, Jennifer Lutz, said that in addition to the meetings being open to the public, they invited all local builders with active licences to offer their insights. While none attended the meeting, she still plans to talk to some before the issue comes before council.

Lutz added that it was still fairly early on in the engagement process, and there will be several other opportunities for the public to share their views. The town is planning to launch a survey to compile further feedback.

In addition, the topic could come up for discussion at next week’s Municipal Development Plan review open house on Thursday (June 8). Finally, the formal public hearing for the bylaw will be held at the regular council meeting on June 26.

Further opportunities for public input are planned

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