Last month, we featured a lane house that was built with unapproved amendments and has a huge negative impact on the surrounding neighbours. This month, we are featuring another example of non-compliance, in a different location and has in common the inconsiderate effects on people who live nearby.
This second non-compliant lane house is located at 712 33 A St NW. This started with a development permit (DP) originally issued in 2012. The Parkdale’s Planning and Development Committee appealed that approval out of concerns for neighbour privacy and excessive building height and massing. Consequently, an amended development permit was issued in April 2013.
The City of Calgary requires a developer to begin construction within a two year time period after a DP is approved. In this case, the developer did nothing until a few days before the expiry period in 2015 and demolished the garage. The developer claimed this was a ‘start of construction’. Then, after more than two year hiatus (Fall 2017), the developer finally began constructing the lane house, modifying substantial portions of the approved plans, and without approval from the City.
Meanwhile, (within this five year period) all the surrounding properties were purchased and rebuilt to completion by new Parkdale community members. These homeowners were unaware of the pending lane house and the impact such a development would have on their property (the permit was not displayed on the property as it should have been).
The impacts are significant. One neighbour can look from her bedroom window, right through the window of the lane house and see construction workers. The adjacent neighbour has multiple windows from the lane house looking directly into her kitchen and living areas. An independent realtor estimated property values surrounding this new lane house would decrease by 10-20% or a combined $700,000.
Impacted neighbours and the Parkdale Planning and Development Committee jointly appealed this lane house this past May and witnessed unusual and questionable maneuvers by the developer and The City of Calgary. For instance, and this is one of many, after the appeal had started, the developer applied to The City for a revised development permit to legalize the variances from what was initially approved in 2013, to what he actually was building. The City approved the revision without circulating to the community or neighbours even though it was in an active appeal.
Unfortunately, the Development Appeal Board did not support the appeal. Thus, our community has no options, the neighbours have no options. This development, full of questionable allowances by the City of Calgary, is proceeding. A basement was removed, the rear lane entrance was changed, windows were changed and the lot coverage, area and height are all questionable. In this case, a new development permit ought to have been required, and we have no answers as to why a “back door” revision with no communication to the neighbours or the community was allowed.
Monetary, privacy and shadow impact of The City’s densification initiatives on people who live in the inner city may not be of consequence to the Development Authorities, but it might be to you as a homeowner.
We hope that this series of articles provide some insight to the planning and development challenges in our community and emphasizes the importance of context, communication, transparency, compliance and enforcement from The City. For us, support on these principals is top of mind in this election year.
Please save the date for Parkdale’s town hall with all candidates for Ward 7 Councillor September 19 2017.