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Thread: Infill etiquette- how do we get developers on board ?

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    Default Infill etiquette- how do we get developers on board ?

    So there has been tonnes of discussion about infill development; The city has held multiple workshops, lots of offline discussions have taken place, and groups such as the North-Central Development Committee have formed to try to bring some clarity to the conversation, to find out what works well and what needs improvement.

    After speaking to countless stakeholders, we've come to realize that one of the major issues that seriously affects neighbors of infill development is how developers handle their business in mature urgan areas. Some of the complaints about infill developers that we have heard include:

    Messy construction sites
    Insecure construction sites
    Length of time to complete a project
    Damage to neighboring property


    If we were to focus on these four items, what would it take to bring infill developers on board to ensure that they are completing projects in a timely fashion, ensuring sites are safe and secure, and being accountable for damages incurred by neighbors ?

    Right now, to deal with these isues the only recourse is to call 311 or the development compliance office, and situations are dealt with on a case by case basis. However, what we find is that a group of developers keeps causing the same issues, time and time again. The frustration boils over as these developers are frequently asking for and receiving variances for projects that are causing disruption for neighbors.

    Possible soltutions include:

    *Better monitoring and oversight of infill development from a development compliance perspective
    *Completion permits required
    *Requiring a performance bond that is tied to successful completion of a project
    *Restricting variance approvals to developers who have a history of misconduct


    I think that if we can get all infill developers on board with better practices, better schedules and less hassle for neighbors, the overall process will improve and the end results will be better for everyone.
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    Another approach might be to try to facilitate owner-occupant driven infill rather than developer driven infill. Someone who intends to live in the house they are building will have more motivation not to needlessly annoy the neighbors. Perhaps some sort of pre-approval process, where a prospective buyer can present a design to the city and have it approved subject to lot criteria. Final permit processing could then begin shortly after an offer is accepted on a lot meeting the criteria, and construction could begin the day the deal closes. With less uncertainty and less delay, more prospective homebuyers might be willing to go this route.

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    Consideration from BOTH sides is critically important throughout the process.
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    ^ Spoken like a true blue development industry lobbiest

    Another approach might be to try to facilitate owner-occupant driven infill rather than developer driven infill. Someone who intends to live in the house they are building will have more motivation not to needlessly annoy the neighbors. Perhaps some sort of pre-approval process, where a prospective buyer can present a design to the city and have it approved subject to lot criteria. Final permit processing could then begin shortly after an offer is accepted on a lot meeting the criteria, and construction could begin the day the deal closes. With less uncertainty and less delay, more prospective homebuyers might be willing to go this route.
    I like this idea, It's definitely worth bringing forward for a closer look. A "fast track" for owner/ occupiers of property.

    We do have a major issue with infill developers who are causing the problems noted upthread. There are lots of good developers, but an lots of inconsiderate, unprofressional or inexperienced ones as well. How can we as communities, and the city, ensure that developers are doing their best work in existing communities, and how can the city (because this is really where this needs to come from) ensure that bad developers are not given a free pass ?
    Last edited by 240GLT; 04-11-2014 at 02:15 PM.
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    Those are great ideas T48. I agree completely. But I have read some thoughtful criticism or fast tracking owner-occupier development -- I'm going to look for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    ^ Spoken like a true blue development industry lobbiest
    Hardly. How about balanced.

    I want infill, lots of it, but of good quality and with an appropriate impact on the neighbourhood.
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    We have both spec houses and owner-occupied developments in Old Strathcona, and I can't say one is better than the other. We had a spec house built down the street from us that had no issues at all, and wonderful people moved into it. The big headache is with an owner-occupied house that was built without permits, and not to the plans submitted.

    One thing they definitely need to do is posted the permit number on any new development, and have an easy way to check and see if it's valid.
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    ^ That could be a concern... a landowner taking on a project without knowledge or experience could be equally as messy as some developers have been. However, there are good cases.. our neighbor in Gold Bar is adding a 2nd level onto their rancher and so far the progress has been great and the impact has been zero

    Where we see problems are with developers who are turning around a large number of spec duplexes. They are causing a lot of problems and making it difficult for ligitimate developers to gain any kind of trust or cedibility in mature neighborhoods

    The city needs to take the lead here to demand that infill develpers are adhering to a certain code of conduct, that projects actually get 100% finished and that they are completed in a timely fashion. If developers can do that, it will go a long way towards people having more trust in these developers
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    One of the things that bothers me the most about some completed infill projects is when the landscaping is left undone for months, even years.

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    ^ yup.. that's one of the issues. A completion permit would help solve that problem.

    Either that or a performance bond
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    Bond! We are subject to them commercially...
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    Had a house down the street from me that was bare dirt, filled with weeds, for years after it became occupied. Then one day they were having sod put down, and a week later it was up for sale. I guess he only put in grass so he could sell it.

    A bond would be a good idea, as long as it was a big one. The high house that's been causing us so much grief in the neighbourhood has been fined multiple times... for a total cost of $800. Not much of a deterrent when you're building an $850,000 house, is it?
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    ^ that is moreso why a completion permit is a better idea. In commercial construction we employ performance bonding all the time however the circumstances surrounding how projects get completed are much different. The city has already begun the implementation process for a completion permit for commercial projects, perhaps this should also apply to residential


    One of the biggest issues that has come up is the destruction of private property by developers.. this seems like a very big problem in compact neighborhoods with small lots and projects with larger footprints. damaged fences, flooded basements, and destroyed landscaping are what we are hearing about.
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    Bonds drive away potentials if they don't have a lot of upfront cash and are relying on the banks to build (EVERY single family/owner developer) you would essentially remove infill from the owner territory and make it large developer only.

    How about just a simple Landscape plan that has to be submitted to the city for any infill. similar to a completion permit. (and not destructive to infill encouragement)

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    ^ the problem being that these developers are already familiar with the rules.. they know that landscaping needs to be completed. I don't think that submitting a plan is going to change that. A plan is worth nothing unless it's enforced.

    There have been a tonne of problems on the commercial side with things not getting complete. That's why there will be a completion permit required by yhe city very soon.

    Only problem on the city side is having the manpower to follow up on the inspections.

    We recently found out about a non-conforming new structure (2007) that the city is only now getting around to inspecting.. and now the building is complete and occupied, what is the city realistically going to do ?

    Developers know this.. it's easier to bed for forgiveness than aak for permission, so the saying goes
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmont...nton-1.2833690

    Sounds like we'll see zoning changes in early 2015 to allow all 50' lots to be subdivided and more garden and garage suites allowed.

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    ^ there's the carrot. Now we need to make sure that there's a big stick attached to it
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    Yeah, those zoning changes have been pushed back a bunch of times already. Until they're actually in, I'm not holding my breath.
    Giving less of a damn than everÖ Can't laugh at the ignorant if you ignore them!

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    ^ may be different this time. You've got a concerted effort by developers who are banding together to form lobby groups like the IDEA group to push the city for these changes for financial reasons, and on the other end you've got more interest from people wanting to live in new houses in mature areas. So this time I think it's got some teeth

    Like I said, the carrot is out there, now these infill developers need to be held to account with better product and better behaviour. We'll see if that materializes
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    Just learned that SD is working on a 'good neighbor construction guide' for infill.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Just learned that SD is working on a 'good neighbor construction guide' for infill.
    Is it for the people who are building? Or the people who live next to the people who are building?
    Cuz I'm sure there could be guides written for both groups.

    Either way, probably a useless pamphlet.

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    For both groups along with the community league and that's the spirit.
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    We had a very productive meeting with SD at our last infill committee meeting a short while back about this

    Good to see our reccomendations being pushed forward as action items. I look forward to seeing the guide
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    Check out the volume of infill development permits in the Norwood area in the past few weeks

    It's for this reason that a guide is essential

    156539167-006
    22-Oct-2014
    12021 - 89 STREET NW
    Plan RN76 Blk 20 Lot 5
    To construct a Semi-Detached
    House with rear uncovered decks
    (3.81m x 3.0m), verandas and
    fireplaces.
    BLAIR HOMES INC Value: $350,000 Site Area:
    Type: Semi-Detached House (210)
    (01) Building - New
    2-storey
    Area: 2939 Units: 2
    EASTWOOD

    143103705-003
    23-Oct-2014
    11535 - 95A STREET NW
    Plan RN43 Blk 22 Lot 11
    To construct an up/down duplex
    with rear uncovered deck, balcony,
    basement development.
    SINGHMAR DEVELOPMENT INC Value: $260,000 Site Area:
    Type: Semi-Detached House (210)
    (01) Building - New
    3-storey
    Area: 2800 Units: 2
    ALBERTA AVENUE

    159576952-002
    27-Oct-2014
    9535 - 120 AVENUE NW
    Plan 3600R Blk 1 Lot 16
    To construct a Semi-Detached
    House with flanking side verandas,
    front uncovered deck (1.22m x
    3.96m) and rear uncovered deck
    (1.22m x 3.69m), and to demolish
    an existing Single Detached House
    and Accessory Building (rear
    detached Garage).
    PLEX DEVELOPMENTS LTD. Value: $450,000 Site Area:
    Type: Semi-Detached House (210)
    (01) Building - New
    2-storey
    Area: 2271 Units: 2
    ALBERTA AVENUE

    160897000-002
    04-Nov-2014
    11941 - 86 STREET NW
    Plan RN76 Blk 12 Lot 9
    To construct a Semi-Detached
    House with front verandas,
    fireplaces, and rear uncovered
    decks and to demolish a Single
    Detached House and a Detached
    Garage.
    LENACO HOMES MASTERBUILDER
    INC.
    Value: $350,000 Site Area:
    Type: Semi-Detached House (210)
    (01) Building - New
    2-storey
    Area: 3326 Units: 2
    EASTWOOD

    160640475-001
    29-Oct-2014
    11933 - 95 STREET NW
    Plan 7811CA Blk 2 Lot 3
    To construct a Single Detached
    House with front veranda and to
    develop a Secondary Suite in the
    basement (1 Bedroom)
    SKIL-TEC INC Value: $194,900 Site Area: 383.29
    Type: Single Detached House (110)
    (01) New
    bungalow
    Area: 1026 Units: 2
    ALBERTA AVENUE

    148349388-002
    29-Oct-2014
    11617 - 93 STREET NW
    Plan RN43A Blk 46 Lot 6
    To construct a Single Detached
    House with front veranda,
    uncovered deck (2.44m x 3.66m)
    and demolish an existing Single
    Detached House.
    KARMOY BUILDERS INC Value: $276,800 Site Area: 368.23
    Type: Single Detached House (110)
    (01) New
    2-storey
    Area: 1457 Units: 1
    ALBERTA AVENUE
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    Quite the wide range of building costs if those are to be believed. 105-190/SF.

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    ^ I think it reflects the wide variety of builders and quality of projects in the area.

    Some low end stuff, some higher end stuff. Makes for a great diversity of housing for people of different income levels
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    A very interesting read on the front page of this month's Rat Creek Press on infill development- quite topical to this conversation

    http://www.ratcreek.org/uploads/3/0/...2_dec_2014.pdf
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    The frustration boils over as these developers are frequently asking for and receiving variances for projects that are causing disruption for neighbors.
    If that's the real problem, then the developers are not the problem. I mean they have their right to advocate for whatever project that can make them money, as long as it's permitted by the city.

    You should call Don Iveson and other city councils to reduce or eliminate such variance from the top.

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    ^ It's Sustainable Development and the other associated boards that are the problem, exactly. These departments are the ones that are permitting this kind of thing to happen

    Council has been made well aware of the issue, and some councillors are getting involved. Don unfortunately does not seem to share the same concern, and seems more preoccupied with certain tiny areas than dealing with the broader problem
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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    ^ It's Sustainable Development and the other associated boards that are the problem, exactly. These departments are the ones that are permitting this kind of thing to happen

    Council has been made well aware of the issue, and some councillors are getting involved. Don unfortunately does not seem to share the same concern, and seems more preoccupied with certain tiny areas than dealing with the broader problem
    IMO, variance exist to allow some corruption to happen. Those who are friends of the development officers will gain an unfair advantage over the ones who are not.

    How about let's relax all code a little bit and then eliminate "variance" for good?

    The flexibility that we lose is compensated by justice and fairness. The overall result would be better.

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    You are right eons. Make the zoning bylaws do what you want to have happen and then everyone can make their decisions upfront based on the bylaws.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    Don unfortunately does not seem to share the same concern, and seems more preoccupied with certain tiny areas than dealing with the broader problem
    I think the situation is more like: in 2016, Darryl Katz asks for a BIG variance from Don, like double the size of a building or something like that. Don would OK it for sure. With that in mind, Don won't really pressure anyone to tight up on variances at this moment. As a result, when Don needs it, he will have fewer objections.

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    What?>!>!!?!
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    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    ^ It's Sustainable Development and the other associated boards that are the problem, exactly. These departments are the ones that are permitting this kind of thing to happen

    Council has been made well aware of the issue, and some councillors are getting involved. Don unfortunately does not seem to share the same concern, and seems more preoccupied with certain tiny areas than dealing with the broader problem
    IMO, variance exist to allow some corruption to happen. Those who are friends of the development officers will gain an unfair advantage over the ones who are not.

    How about let's relax all code a little bit and then eliminate "variance" for good?

    The flexibility that we lose is compensated by justice and fairness. The overall result would be better.


    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    Don unfortunately does not seem to share the same concern, and seems more preoccupied with certain tiny areas than dealing with the broader problem
    I think the situation is more like: in 2016, Darryl Katz asks for a BIG variance from Don, like double the size of a building or something like that. Don would OK it for sure. With that in mind, Don won't really pressure anyone to tight up on variances at this moment. As a result, when Don needs it, he will have fewer objections.
    Sorry man, I lost you there
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    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    ^ It's Sustainable Development and the other associated boards that are the problem, exactly. These departments are the ones that are permitting this kind of thing to happen

    Council has been made well aware of the issue, and some councillors are getting involved. Don unfortunately does not seem to share the same concern, and seems more preoccupied with certain tiny areas than dealing with the broader problem
    IMO, variance exist to allow some corruption to happen. Those who are friends of the development officers will gain an unfair advantage over the ones who are not.

    How about let's relax all code a little bit and then eliminate "variance" for good?

    The flexibility that we lose is compensated by justice and fairness. The overall result would be better.
    Well, "code" is set by the province, and can't have a variance. A variance is something that the city can relax based on the bylaws for building.
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
    You are part of the system and no doubt would defend it.

    There is variance for height from DO, just FYI. I got one just recently.

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    While there is need for flexibility in some cases, the process is extremely flawed. Variances should be rare and only used for really unusual situations. The whole process of applying for a permit that you know will be rejected and then arguing your case at SDAB is absurd. We should relax the zoning bylaw to reduce the number of variances needed, and change the process by which variances are requested.

    Identify the absolute core requirements of each zone. Core requirements should be few in number, but should not be allowed to be varied anyone (including SDAB). Development officers should be able to vary anything that is not a core requirement, but permit applicants should be required to submit evidence of both why the variance is needed and that there has been community consultation and support before their application is considered. Development officers should provide a detailed rationale for any variance decisions one way or the other. No variance application should end up at SDAB before this happens, and any appeal to SDAB should be an attempt to show that either the applicant mislead the development officer or that the development officer did not properly assess the application.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
    You are part of the system and no doubt would defend it.

    There is variance for height from DO, just FYI. I got one just recently.
    I am not defending it, I merely sit on it. There are many flaws with how things work and people at the City are working to change those, but they are also LIMITED by the MGA.

    Did you now...
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
    You are part of the system and no doubt would defend it.

    There is variance for height from DO, just FYI. I got one just recently.
    I am not defending it, I merely sit on it. There are many flaws with how things work and people at the City are working to change those, but they are also LIMITED by the MGA.

    Did you now...
    Not granting any variance at the DO level is not limited by the MGA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    While there is need for flexibility in some cases, the process is extremely flawed. Variances should be rare and only used for really unusual situations. The whole process of applying for a permit that you know will be rejected and then arguing your case at SDAB is absurd. We should relax the zoning bylaw to reduce the number of variances needed, and change the process by which variances are requested.

    Identify the absolute core requirements of each zone. Core requirements should be few in number, but should not be allowed to be varied anyone (including SDAB). Development officers should be able to vary anything that is not a core requirement, but permit applicants should be required to submit evidence of both why the variance is needed and that there has been community consultation and support before their application is considered. Development officers should provide a detailed rationale for any variance decisions one way or the other. No variance application should end up at SDAB before this happens, and any appeal to SDAB should be an attempt to show that either the applicant mislead the development officer or that the development officer did not properly assess the application.
    Absolutely 100% agreed with this

    The process is flawed right from the DO, on down to the SDAB. The bylaws should be tailored so that they can be followed with mimimal variance, and variances should only be granted when a case can be made for extreme hardship or difficulty in following the bylaws. SDAB should have nothing to do with a great many variances with regards to height, FAR, site coverage ETC
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    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
    You are part of the system and no doubt would defend it.

    There is variance for height from DO, just FYI. I got one just recently.
    I am not defending it, I merely sit on it. There are many flaws with how things work and people at the City are working to change those, but they are also LIMITED by the MGA.

    Did you now...
    Not granting any variance at the DO level is not limited by the MGA.
    The MGA governs and outlines what powers municipalities have and how they can 'operate' if you will. Edmonton zoning bylaws are our own, but must abide by regulations set out by the MGA.

    From edmonton.ca

    '11.3 Variance to Regulations

    The Development Officer may approve, with or without conditions as a Class B Development, an application for development that does not comply with this Bylaw where:
    the proposed development would not, in his opinion:

    unduly interfere with the amenities of the neighbourhood; or

    materially interfere with or affect the use, enjoyment or value of neighbouring properties.

    the proposed development would, in his opinion, conform with the use prescribed for that land or building in this Bylaw; and

    the Development Officer may approve, with or without conditions as a Class B Development, an enlargement, alteration or addition to a legal non-conforming building if the non-conforming building complies with the uses prescribed for that land in this Bylaw and the proposed development would not, in his opinion:

    unduly interfere with the amenities of the neighbourhood; or

    materially interfere with or affect the use, enjoyment or value of neighbouring properties.

    11.4 Limitation of Variance

    In approving an application for a Development Permit pursuant to Section 11.3, the Development Officer shall adhere to the following:
    a variance shall be considered only in cases of unnecessary hardship or practical difficulties peculiar to the Use, character, or situation of land or a building, which are not generally common to other land in the same Zone;

    Bylaw 16859
    June 24, 2014
    except as otherwise provided in this Bylaw, there shall be no variance from maximum Height, Floor Area Ratio and Density regulations, and

    the General Purpose of the appropriate Zone.'
    www.decl.org

    Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

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    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
    You are part of the system and no doubt would defend it.

    There is variance for height from DO, just FYI. I got one just recently.
    That's very odd, eons. That's one of the things, like Ian mentioned, can't receive a variance from a Development Officer. I've actually some across some SDAB ruling where the DO shows up and argues FOR the variance, because their hands were tied and couldn't issue one, even though they felt one should be issued. The fact that you got one means a DO wasn't doing their job properly.
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    ^exactly.

    People often have misconceptions about what the SDAB is and how it can be a very positive thing coming to them. DOs do in fact attend now and do indeed support many variances requested and remind the SDAB that their hands were tied.
    www.decl.org

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    SDAB often makes grave errors in judgement as well
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    ^few people, groups, boards or decisions are infallible, but on the whole decisions are extremely well thought-out and highly considered.
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    That's your opinion and you are entitled to it.

    Through my many experiences with the board I have found that there are more errors in judgement than you care to admit
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    You, I honestly mean this, should apply.
    www.decl.org

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    Several people have asked me to do that

    I have considered it and haven't ruled it out
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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    Ian, what qualifications are needed? I know you clearly have a background that meshes with SDAB, but does everyone? I noticed the next "round" of recruitment is in January. It's not paid, is it?
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    A general understanding of the MGA, zoning, bylaws, process, how to read plans etc. The majority of people who are on SDAB are lawyers, former developers, or just informed citizens. There is renumeration for our time yes. Time commitments are typically 1-2 times a month, wed or thurs.

    More info can be found here:

    http://www.edmontontribunals.ca/sdab.aspx
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  52. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
    You are part of the system and no doubt would defend it.

    There is variance for height from DO, just FYI. I got one just recently.
    I am not defending it, I merely sit on it. There are many flaws with how things work and people at the City are working to change those, but they are also LIMITED by the MGA.

    Did you now...
    Not granting any variance at the DO level is not limited by the MGA.
    The MGA governs and outlines what powers municipalities have and how they can 'operate' if you will. Edmonton zoning bylaws are our own, but must abide by regulations set out by the MGA.

    From edmonton.ca

    '11.3 Variance to Regulations

    The Development Officer may approve, with or without conditions as a Class B Development, an application for development that does not comply with this Bylaw where:
    the proposed development would not, in his opinion:

    unduly interfere with the amenities of the neighbourhood; or

    materially interfere with or affect the use, enjoyment or value of neighbouring properties.

    the proposed development would, in his opinion, conform with the use prescribed for that land or building in this Bylaw; and

    the Development Officer may approve, with or without conditions as a Class B Development, an enlargement, alteration or addition to a legal non-conforming building if the non-conforming building complies with the uses prescribed for that land in this Bylaw and the proposed development would not, in his opinion:

    unduly interfere with the amenities of the neighbourhood; or

    materially interfere with or affect the use, enjoyment or value of neighbouring properties.

    11.4 Limitation of Variance

    In approving an application for a Development Permit pursuant to Section 11.3, the Development Officer shall adhere to the following:
    a variance shall be considered only in cases of unnecessary hardship or practical difficulties peculiar to the Use, character, or situation of land or a building, which are not generally common to other land in the same Zone;

    Bylaw 16859
    June 24, 2014
    except as otherwise provided in this Bylaw, there shall be no variance from maximum Height, Floor Area Ratio and Density regulations, and

    the General Purpose of the appropriate Zone.'
    As a whole, that's some very vague words and nowhere forbids the proposed tightening up of the variance at the execution level.

    As per variance in height, see the next post.
    Last edited by eons; 05-12-2014 at 04:28 PM.

  53. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gord Lacey View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanO View Post
    ^bingo.

    Variances exist to allow some flexibility to happen. Under the MGA, height, FAR and density cannot be varied by the DO, so they MUST come to see us at the SDAB.
    You are part of the system and no doubt would defend it.

    There is variance for height from DO, just FYI. I got one just recently.
    That's very odd, eons. That's one of the things, like Ian mentioned, can't receive a variance from a Development Officer. I've actually some across some SDAB ruling where the DO shows up and argues FOR the variance, because their hands were tied and couldn't issue one, even though they felt one should be issued. The fact that you got one means a DO wasn't doing their job properly.
    Never heard of "alternative method of calculating height"?

    The original wording is like this on my permit:

    "Variances
    Note: A variance was granted for this Development Permit pursuant to Sections 11.3 and 11.4. Subject to the right of appeal the
    permit is NOT VALID until the required Notification Period expires (date noted below) in accordance with Sections 21.1 and 17.1.
    Section 52.5 Relaxed. In accordance with Section 52.7, the Development Authority has deemed this Single Detached House,
    complete with walk-out basement, to be a two-storey structure by establishing the average grade by using an alternate method. In
    this regard the Development Authority interpreted the basement to be not a full storey."
    Last edited by eons; 05-12-2014 at 04:23 PM.

  54. #54
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    What you received was a variance in the way that grade is calculated, which affects the height. While the result may be similar, you didn't get a height variance, you got a grade variance (which affects the height).

    How did they decide to calculate grade? Sounds as though your lot has a lot of slope to it?
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

  55. #55
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    Bingo. Different.
    www.decl.org

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  56. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gord Lacey View Post
    What you received was a variance in the way that grade is calculated, which affects the height. While the result may be similar, you didn't get a height variance, you got a grade variance (which affects the height).

    How did they decide to calculate grade? Sounds as though your lot has a lot of slope to it?
    Nice play with words.

    Height = elevation of roof top - grade - 1.5m
    (assuming the roof truss height is > 3m)

    Variance of grade = Variance of height for all practical development purposes. They may be different for a lawyer or a linguistic professor. But they are the same for everyone trying to build a house.

    With the ability to grant variance to grade calculation, and thus height, DO has a lot of power and there is a lot room to be exploited.

  57. #57

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    There are a lot of times when variances from standard grade are a good thing for residents. anytime you want a walk out basement is one example.

  58. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by Himser View Post
    There are a lot of times when variances from standard grade are a good thing for residents. anytime you want a walk out basement is one example.
    Exactly. That's all I am saying. If you see a well sloped lot, you would want to make it a walkout to increase the value. That's a good thing.

    However, you are not 100% sure if the variance will be granted if you are not personal friends of someone in the development office. But people with such connections do.

    The variance creates randomness and potential for unfairness.

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    The proposed changes to grade and height were to take care of these instances and make it more black and white, but as I understand it those changes have been shelved for now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Gord Lacey View Post
    What you received was a variance in the way that grade is calculated, which affects the height. While the result may be similar, you didn't get a height variance, you got a grade variance (which affects the height).

    How did they decide to calculate grade? Sounds as though your lot has a lot of slope to it?
    Nice play with words.

    Height = elevation of roof top - grade - 1.5m
    (assuming the roof truss height is > 3m)

    Variance of grade = Variance of height for all practical development purposes. They may be different for a lawyer or a linguistic professor. But they are the same for everyone trying to build a house.

    With the ability to grant variance to grade calculation, and thus height, DO has a lot of power and there is a lot room to be exploited.
    I'm sorry you can't see the difference.
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    My issue Gord is that there is little to no consistency in the issuance if variances and enforcement of the bylaws. I'm glad your appeal went well for you however I can come up with several instances where there was a much different outcome in the same situation
    Over promise and under deliver. Itís the most Edmonton thing you can do.

  62. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gord Lacey View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eons View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Gord Lacey View Post
    What you received was a variance in the way that grade is calculated, which affects the height. While the result may be similar, you didn't get a height variance, you got a grade variance (which affects the height).

    How did they decide to calculate grade? Sounds as though your lot has a lot of slope to it?
    Nice play with words.

    Height = elevation of roof top - grade - 1.5m
    (assuming the roof truss height is > 3m)

    Variance of grade = Variance of height for all practical development purposes. They may be different for a lawyer or a linguistic professor. But they are the same for everyone trying to build a house.

    With the ability to grant variance to grade calculation, and thus height, DO has a lot of power and there is a lot room to be exploited.
    I'm sorry you can't see the difference.
    I'm sorry you can't see the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    My issue Gord is that there is little to no consistency in the issuance if variances and enforcement of the bylaws. I'm glad your appeal went well for you however I can come up with several instances where there was a much different outcome in the same situation
    In my research of my problem, I found that most of the rulings were ones that I agreed with given the information presented in the ruling. For example, I found one where the height was waaaay off, the number of storeys was off, and a number of other things. The house was built in a valley, so it was way lower than the other houses around it, and they were building the site up with dirt before building the house. I knew the site well (it's a block North of me), and I agreed with the ruling. Another one was over height, but the DO messed up and included the height of the elevator area in the overall height, so the SDAB ruled for the applicant. I don't think I came across anything that jumped out at me, but I was only looking at a very, very narrow section of what SDAB hears.

    I know that Ben Henderson has commented that he doesn't agree with a number of the rulings SDAB has made, and people at the city have said "Sometimes we go in there thinking there's no way they'll approve something, and they do, and other times we think there's no way it'll get rejected and it does. We just never know."

    My recent trip to SDAB was the only time I've "won," but the previous two times were extremely weak arguments on our case (as other neighbours were involved as well). This time our case was pretty much airtight, and their arguments were either weak, or laughable. I've also learned that it's extremely difficult to argue a side yard variance (like... almost impossible).
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    some of the difficulty with sdab is a misunderstanding of the body itself, one that even some of the members have difficulty with, never mind administration and the public. it is not a municipal body, it is a provincial one. there are some things it can vary and there are others it cannot. some of the inconsistency comes from granting variances that in some cases it should not and not granting variances in other cases where it should have. it is expensive and time consuming to appeal an sdab decision so the confusion is sometimes perpetuated as their decisions - even the conflicting ones - all set precedent.
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

  65. #65

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    Infill police: Enforcing building standards, reducing stress on the neighbours

    Looks like the city is finally getting some cajones to tackle this ridiculous issue. My only concern is they're going at it from a primarily "educational" point of view, and the only thing that will work is fines. Developers are in this for money, not feels. If it doesn't hit them in the profits, they won't abide by the rules.
    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" - Blaise Pascal

  66. #66

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    Homebuilder pleads with council to avoid tearing down half-finished bungalow built without a permit


    Well, lookee here, that didn't take long!

    Celebration Homes started construction on a bungalow at a prime location in the Donsdale neighbourhoodís Touchmark community without a development permit.
    It was caught ó fined $1,000 ó and then realized the house was offside with the zoning rules for the area as well, said company president Randy Ettinger. The house was supposed to be set back 4.5 metres from the adjacent park. Instead, it was built 1.2 metres from the property line.
    Huh... maybe they would have been notified of the problem when they got the permit before they started like they should have.


    Ettinger was in council chambers Monday blaming miscommunication for his construction department jumping the gun and asking council not to make him tear it down for the setback issue.

    ďItís 100 per cent our fault. Weíve apologized. Weíve paid fines for starting early,Ē Ettinger said.

    But the homebuilderís pleas were falling on the ears of some clearly frustrated councillors.

    ďYouíre responsible for this situation, are you not?Ē Coun. Mike Nickel. ďWhy didnít you tear out the foundation and do it correctly?Ē
    Well done Mr. Nickel. Time to drop the hammer on every developer that tries to weasel around the rules.
    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" - Blaise Pascal

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    I don't think the city is going about this the right way.
    Council unanimously voted to send the issue back to administration, hoping to force Ettinger’s client to buy part of the city park to accommodate the 4.5 metre setback. If city officials have a reason not to sell the land, Ettinger could still be forced to tear down the home and leave the lot vacant.
    Why do they want the developer to buy parkland? I'd rather they leave everything as it is and make the developer pay a fine substantial enough to ensure they do things right the next time. The setback violation isn't harming any adjacent properties.

  68. #68

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    The fine should be in the amount of whatever it costs to fix the mistake + 50%. Then it will be preferable to fix it and do it properly.
    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" - Blaise Pascal

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chmilz View Post
    The fine should be in the amount of whatever it costs to fix the mistake + 50%. Then it will be preferable to fix it and do it properly.
    It's not easy to accurately assess the cost to fix, when a mess like this takes place. IMO, the city should skip the complexity and offer the following alternatives:
    1) Require the land owner to comply to approved development/building permits.
    2) Or, return the land to original state (i.e. just a piece of flat land)
    3) Or, sell the property to someone who is willing to comply after purchase.

    Oh, and subcontract the communication with the landowner to a law firm which collects its own pay from the land owner.
    Last edited by eons; 22-11-2016 at 12:22 PM.

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    Garneau in the news again RE infill

    "The Garneau community league is challenging the development permit for a skinny apartment at 11007 85th Ave. Right now, it's a single-family dwelling on a small 400 square-metre lot.

    The city bylaw requires a minimum of 800 sq. m. for a development like this apartment.

    But after a hearing at the subdivision and development appeal board, an exception was made and a permit for the three-storey apartment was issued."

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmont...ents-1.3935427

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    Quote Originally Posted by CBC
    Coun. Ben Henderson, who represents Garneau, said he's concerned about changes to neighbourhoods that come about because of exceptions to the bylaw.

    "If the zoning needs to be changed, then we should look at the zoning and have a good public discussion about that," Henderson said.

    "I just worry that when we do it through variance, it creates a distrust in the community which is not what we need right now. We need to be moving forward on this together in a way that everybody can get behind."
    This is the problem. This sort of development is entirely appropriate in any community bordering the U of A, but that should be set out in the zoning, not decided on a case by case basis by a development officer or the SDAB.

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    I read the article, and took a look at the photos, and the words "skinny apartment building" conjures up an image of a tall, thin building. What's shown in the renders looks like a 2 1/2-storey house that blends in really well with the surrounding houses. Nowhere is it mentioned how many apartments this building would have, but I'm guessing it's 3 (basement, main level, second floor). We have a house a block North of me that has 4 apartments in it (legally), and it just looks like a large-ish house.

    Oh, I searched and this is pretty old news (decision was rendered in September). It's a 3 unit apartment house, with 6 parking spots. The decision is here:
    http://sdab.edmonton.ca/download.asp...tName=Decision

    It's also not clear from the article, but it sounds as though this was rejected by the city, but then approved by SDAB. This means it's not council that's to blame, or the city, but the SDAB members that sat on the hearing.

    It was actually a pretty poorly written article that didn't spell out the process, or who made what decisions (IE. it was rejected by the city, and then approved by SDAB).
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

  73. #73

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    Really it's closer to being a house with two suites than an apartment building. There was a journal article on the same issue that also mentioned a 5-6 suite one nearby, about the same size but with two suites per floor and one in the basement. A bit more "apartment building" like.
    There can only be one.

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