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Infill project feeling resistance from some Highlands residents

WATCH ABOVE: The Highlands area is home to several historic homes and soon – a new infill project. But, as Lisa Wolansky reports, homeowners have concerns and are looking to take action.

EDMONTON – A group of residents in Edmonton’s Highlands neighbourhood is taking action against an area infill project.

Edmonton-based developer Monarch Group has plans to split a lot in the area of 111 Avenue and 62 Street to make way for the new build.

“Subdividing the properties in this area is a real concern because I feel it’s going to compromise the historical integrity, not to mention the aesthetics of the community,” said Tilly Jensen, who has lived in Highlands for 32 years.

“As soon as you start subdividing, it changes the ambience and the aesthetics of the community and I don’t want to see that happen.”

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Home to such historic sites as Holgate Residence and Magrath Mansion, some Highlands residents worry what might happen to property values once the new infill project is built.

“The subdivision will split lots that are supposed to be big. They were originally developed to be this size. Along this strip … all the lots are upwards of 60 feet. I think that if we let one lot be subdivided then there will be a lot more,” added Yvette Cioran, who has lived in Highlands for five years.

READ MORE: Edmonton welcomes a new form of infill housing: ‘skinny homes’

In April, Edmonton City Council passed a blanket motion that allows all lots more than 50-feet wide to be split, making way for two homes.

Kevin Cooper, an urban developer who has been hired by the developer to work with homeowners on the infill project, says the development complies with the zoning bylaw and follows all the residential infill guidelines.

“What we really want to put here is an Edwardian-style house, with some feedback from the community, that’s really going to add to the fabric of the community,” said Cooper, with Neighbourly Initiative.

Ward 7 councillor Tony Caterina says the home that’s currently on the lot is not a heritage property, and infill is the direction the city is going.

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“This fits right into where the city wants to go with infill. I think, though, that we have to be very, very careful that we listen to the neighbours, to the neighbourhoods that are affected by this,” he said.

Highlands residents are holding a neighbourhood meeting Thursday night to discuss their options. They will then present their views to city council.

With files from Lisa Wolansky, Global News.

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