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February 2016

Changing Regulations for INFILL ROW HOUSING - Input Needed!

Nearly every neighbourhood block can have corner lots rezoned to allow a 3 or 4 unit row house (townhouse). These buildings tend to be larger than surrounding housing and tend to create a massive wall effect, privacy issues, and sun shadow concerns.  

As a result, the city is currently looking at some changes. One solution is to push the row housing further away from the neighbour while moving the row house closer to the side street and further forward on the lot. City planners are proposing to increase this minimum side setback from the neighbour’s property from 1.2m (current regulation) to 3.0m.

The critical question is, how much further into the front yard should row housing be allowed to go? The current regulations say that a row house can only extend 1.5m beyond the front of the neighbour’s housing/the average on the block without asking for a variance and seeking the neighbour’s input. BUT, city planners and some builders are suggesting to Council that in order to maintain the buildable area, the front setback of the neighbours be ignored. City planners are suggesting that all row housing should be able to have a front setback from the property as small as 6.0m regardless of the context on that street. As an example, if the neighbours on that street have front yards 11m deep, the row house would only need a front yard depth of 6m so the row house itself could jut out 5m beyond the front of its neighbour. 

Instead of a limit of 1.5m, the amendment would mean NO limit as long as the front setback is at least 6m. A neighbour could jut out 3m, 5m, 7m...

Is this an acceptable tradeoff to increase the side setback from 1.2m to 3m? Maybe jutting out 3m is ok but not 5m? Or 5m ok but not 7m? EFCL’s Planning Advisor Bev Zubot and other concerned members have proposed an Alternative Front Setback Option to reduce the potential for misalignment and negative impact on the neighbours. This option would take into consideration the neighbour’s current front setback. It is unlikely it will be adopted unless more people indicate a concern with the proposed amendment. 

What do you think? Let your league know your opinion while this is under discussion. Also contact Councillor Henderson (780-496-8146, ben.henderson@edmonton.ca) and city planner Adam Sheahan (780-442-2582, adam.sheahan@edmonton.ca) or request to speak at the Monday March 14, 2016 1:30pm Public Hearing.

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