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Stratford council approves height variance to allow for Dale Drive apartment

Stratford Mayor Steve Ogden speaks during Wednesday’s council meeting, which saw unanimous approval of a height variance to allow for the development of a 56-unit apartment.
Stratford Mayor Steve Ogden speaks during Wednesday’s council meeting, which saw unanimous approval of a height variance to allow for the development of a 56-unit apartment. - Mitch MacDonald
STRATFORD, P.E.I. —

A proposed 56-unit apartment just got a little bit higher.

Council voted unanimously during Wednesday’s meeting to approve a variance increasing the allowable roof height from 40 to 55 feet for a proposed four-storey apartment building at 140 Dale Dr.

Council has effectively given preliminary approval to the development, which still must follow several conditions before a building permit is issued.

However, little of the council’s discussion Wednesday focused on the height variance. Councillors instead questioned the building’s parking, stormwater management and fire safety before voting.

Coun. Gail MacDonald asked whether the proposed 57 parking spaces would be enough.

Kevin Reynolds, the town’s director of planning, development and heritage, said larger apartment buildings typically require a smaller ratio of parking spaces to units.

“As we get into larger buildings, 18 units and above, we never seem to have issues with parking… as the buildings get larger, the parking demand becomes a little less,” said Reynolds, noting the likelihood of all 56 units needing spaces for two vehicles was low.

“We do not feel it will be an issue at all in this area. And with the adjacent commercial development that will happen on the property in the future, it will allow for overflow parking.”

A new bylaw provision states that apartments with six or fewer dwellings must have two parking spaces per unit, while buildings with seven to 19 units will require one-and-a-half parking spaces each.

Buildings with 20 or more units could only require one space, especially if located nearby existing amenities and public transit.

“We prefer not to build more parking spaces than are absolutely necessary because we want to encourage people to use the active transportation services we have in the community, as well as transit,” said Reynolds.

In response to questions surrounding stormwater management from Coun. Gary Clow, Reynolds told council the developer has also increased the size of a retention pond from its original proposal.

“This building is being developed in such a way that there will be no net increase of stormwater going down the stream,” said Reynolds, adding that water can only be released from the pond at a rate no faster than what it was pre-development.

The development also has several conditions it must follow, including that the design and construction be in accordance with submitted plans and the inclusion of an operational sprinkler system.

After hearing feedback from Crossroads fire department, council has also stated the building’s design must be reviewed by a third party for fire protection and risk assessment.
Council voted unanimously in January to rezone the area from commercial to Mason Road mixed zoning. The building, which would include 30 affordable housing units, would be located behind the existing Storemark property.


Paying to go high

Developers may soon have to pay a premium if they want to build apartments taller than 40 feet.

Ogden raised the possibility after Stratford council approved a height exemption of up to 55 feet for an affordable housing apartment during Wednesday’s meeting.

While Ogden said it was too late to introduce the concept for that particular development, he asked if the town’s planning committee could look at creating a surcharge for height exemptions.
He proposed the money could go towards the Crossroads fire department, which services the town.

“They are trying to get money for a ladder truck and, if they need to do that, every building over 40 feet should be contributing because that’s (where) the need for a ladder truck (comes from),” said Ogden.

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