Infill housing dispute highlights questions needing answers in bylaw review
The City of Regina is in the process of reviewing relevant bylaws to infill development. Some current projects being built throughout the city show there is work to do in bringing together the views of residents and developers.
Angela Ell is all for infill development, but the Arnhem Place resident takes issue with the home being built next to her Atkinson Street residence.
“We can build a house that’s the exact same size as mine, and why not? That’s a two storey that is not a two storey,” Ell said.
“This is what the city considers a two storey. In this neighbourhood, my house, that’s a two storey.”
Ell lives in a century old,two storey home. The infill property is larger, but still smaller than the City of Regina’s dictated maximum sizes for a two storey home. The maximum height is 11 metres, and this property is 8.08 metres tall.
“That’s not acceptable. It’s too big. It’s invasive, it’s overshadowing,” Ell said.
Her frustrations are compounded by temporary re-enforcements installed in her basement. An engineering report by Alton Tangedal Architect Ltd. (ATAL) said further re-enforcements were required because of vibrations from construction equipment next door.
“We’ve spent money on engineering reports, and then the developer will come back with his engineer saying his story. It’s almost like it’s all about the developer,” Ell said.
She made an attempt to appeal the building permit on June 2, 2017, but was unsuccessful. Minutes from the appeal board meeting say Ell did not provide the board with the engineer’s report.
READ MORE: Growing concern over Regina’s infill houses
Zarkor Homes, the developer, received an engineering report from Walker Projects. It says the structural issues in the brink basement outlined in the ATAL report are consistent with homes of that age. However, Walker Projects concluded damage to neighbouring properties is unlikely.
Zarkor Homes president Shaheen Zareh offered to over excavate the site at his own cost.
“I even said I would over excavate, I would over excavate for her so she could get access to [the basement],” Zareh said.
The excavation would have given engineers a better idea of the condition of the basement, and relieved pressure construction related pressure on the walls.
Ultimately, the appeal board found Zarkor’s plans for the build satisfy all existing infill regulations, and the permit was given the go ahead.
Zareh said he offered to change the façade of the building in an attempt to satisfy Ell’s concerns.
“They didn’t like the way the slope of the roof looked, they thought it was too modern and didn’t fit the area,” he said.
However, Ell still does not believe the new house fits the area.
There are guide lines in the Official Community Plan that infill properties should try to match the area they are being built in, but it is a general guide line, and not a specific regulation.
Global News reached out for comment on the status to the infill bylaw review, but the City of Regina was unable to provide a reply.
Ward One City Councillor Barbara Young said that she wants to see the public consultation for this review take place by the end of the year, which can include questions about aesthetics.
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