Chestermere City Council tabled the Rainbow Road proposed land use redesignation bylaw until July, following a June 14 Public Hearing.
NORR Architects on behalf of Truman Developments applied for a land redesignation of 3.26 hectares of land that is currently zoned as local commercial, to a low-rise multi-unit residential district in Rainbow Falls.
The proposal is expected to facilitate an opportunity for residential development that will support nearby commercial and industrial land, the council report said.
“Administration supports a balanced approach to housing affordability and sustainability in the community. This is accomplished, in part, by fostering a strong partnership with our local building and development community along with policies that will, in the long-term, benefit all stakeholders,” the council report said.
“The site was changed from urban transition to local commercial, in 2017. In that time the applicant and landowner have tried to market it and have decided that it’s not feasible, and would prefer to go with the designation, or something similar to allow a townhouse proposal,” Senior Planner Community Growth and Infrastructure Jordan Furness said.
Prior to the public hearing, the city received four letters in support generally from business owners, expressing their concerns about turnover and difficulties in finding long-term tenants.
The city received another 30 letters in opposition, with one submission having more than 20 co-signatures.
The letters in opposition expressed concerns regarding preserving commercial land in Chestermere, Rainbow Road being unable to handle more growth, and the lack of parks, schools and other amenities in the area.
“The bylaw proposes that the larger parcel of land will be retained for commercial uses, and the applicant is looking for the southern parcel to be converted to residential,” Furness said. “On the surface, this looks like a dramatic shift, to go from commercial to purely residential.”
Furness explained that mixed-use residential can be achieved either horizontally, or vertically, with the intent of having a commercial on the main floor, while horizontal can be achieved with adjacent residential and industrial land uses complementing each other.
“There is adequate supply, we believe, of commercial lands being preserved,” Furness said. “There’s a good mix of commercial, residential, and employment opportunities, but the uptake for leasing is affected by surrounding uses.”
The applicant explained that the location’s characteristics make it ideal for residential, as it has large sites, multiple ways of access, schools, places of worship, public transit, and commercial retail.
“There’s a healthy mix of residential and commercial uses in the area. Truman is proposing residential for balance. This is a proposal for market-rate rental, no affordable or subsidized housing is proposed,” the applicants said.
“This isn’t a dine and dash developer, this isn’t a developer seeing that they can do a quick flip. The benefits would provide new townhomes and a clubhouse for residents, these are intended to be market-rate units,” Furness said. “Disadvantages, it might be premature to give up on commercial development on this location. Our land supply for a commercial is abundant, there’s a huge amount of probably better located commercial lands coming online this year.”