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Relaxed zoning rules on the way

Tim Edwards
Northern News Services
Published Friday, March 12, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - City council is one step away from pulling back some of the red tape on the city's zoning bylaw, a bylaw developers say has hampered their efforts to build homes in the Niven Lake subdivision.

The bylaw amendment passed second reading Monday night after council listened to concerns from two residents who spoke in support of making changes.

"I'm really requesting it go through and there are no delays," said resident Tricia McFaull, who is building a home for herself and her family in Phase VII of Niven Lake, which has remained largely undeveloped since it went onto the market in 2008.

McFaull told council that summer is fast approaching, and the construction season with it. Without the amendment, she may not be able to build this summer, she said.

A number of zoning rules will be relaxed or scrapped all together on home construction if the amendment passes third reading, which is expected to occur at the next council meeting March 22.

Those changes include a relaxation of variance limits on building plans to 25 per cent instead of the current10 per cent; the removal of floor-area-ratio requirements; the removal of limits on maximum allowable number of storeys, although a maximum height would still be set; and restrictions on attached garages protruding in front of houses would be removed.

One final aspect of the bylaw amendment concerns allowing detached garages in front of houses. In the proposed amendment, detached garages – which are currently not allowed at all anywhere in the city – will be granted but only a few extreme cases, mainly in irregular shaped lots where attached garages would be hard to build.

City councillor Cory Vanthuyne thought the criteria for the detached garages were still too stringent, although he said he was in support of the remainder of the overall amendment package.

"I'm trying to make an effort to do the right thing so we're not having to revisit this (bylaw) further down the road, during construction season," said Vanthuyne, to which Coun. Bob Brooks agreed.

Couns. Amanda Mallon, Mark Heyck, Paul Falvo, Shelagh Montgomery, and Lydia Bardak all disagreed, saying there wasn't enough time to address Vanthuyne's concerns at this late stage.

"I don't think it's particularly wise at this point … to propose and pass amendments to this part of the bylaw, where we do not know the implications of what this could mean," said Heyck.

The zoning bylaw amendment passed second reading with only Vanthuyne voting against it. Coun. David Wind was not present at the meeting.

"When I voted as opposed, it was because I was trying to base the point that restrictions around garages could be lifted further," said Vanthuyne later.