Location, location, location.
The first rule of real estate will be tested when the lid is ripped off in a public review of a re-zone application for the Cooke Avenue development, with the question of the location of access points to a new development being posed.
The public review on Sept. 23 (7 p.m., council chambers) for a proposed residential development at 1541 Cooke Avenue in southeast Rossland will be a further litmus test for the development by Rossland resident Cezary Ksiazek which has been lodged in the wheels of bureaucratic process for almost two years.
The proposed development consists of 24 dwelling units in five buildings. However, road access to the development is now a sticking point for council in approving the application.
Ksiazek has proposed access points to the property on both Cooke and Thompson avenues, for a total of five access points.
City senior planner Mike Maturo said the proposed design creates certain impacts to existing traffic operations on both Cooke Avenue and Thompson Avenue. His view was supported by an independent consultant’s report.
To give the decision some balance for council, the city retained ISL Engineering and Land Services (ISL) to review and weigh the two development concepts—one from the developer and one from the city—and compare the concepts with traffic operations and safety considerations.
Both concepts required on-site visitor parking area to avoid parking on the city’s roadway right-of-way.
ISL had some concerns with Ksiazek’s proposal.
“It … generates more vehicle to vehicle conflicts and increases collision risk with pedestrians and cyclists,” the report read. “The chance of on-street parking by visitor vehicles is also higher.”
The city recommended another building and access arrangement than what the developer proposed: six buildings with four units each.
It advised against any driveways onto Thompson Avenue and two driveways are proposed to come onto Cooke Avenue, connected to a parking area for both resident and visitor parking spaces.
In the proposed scheme with five access points, Maturo was concerned on-street parking for visitor vehicles would take place on both Cooke and Thompson avenues.
“If sufficient space is not provided on driveway, parked vehicles may overflow onto roadways, creating operational and safety issues,” the report read. “Some visitors may park right next to or opposite to the development’s driveways.”
Parking restriction signage could reduce some illegal parking, the consultant noted, but the cost of enforcement would increase.
The city staff concept provided a more efficient and safer operation, the report concluded, and on-street parking would be minimized with clear signage.
Existing road conditions
Both Cooke Avenue and Thompson Avenue are east-west, two-way, two-lane roads with gravel shoulders on both sides.
Driveways to residential developments and on-street parking are found on these roads. Based on the latest City of Rossland Official Community Plan (OCP).
Cooke Avenue is classified as a local road while Thompson Road is classified as a collector with bus services.
Traffic data is not available; however, traffic volumes are expected to be low on Cooke Avenue due to the surrounding residential land uses.
Higher traffic volumes on Thompson Avenue are expected with a higher hierarchy of road classification to connect the surrounding local roads.
With five driveways on a short section of roadway, it is expected the developer’s option will generate more stop-and-go maneuvers for turning vehicles and a longer vehicle delay along Cooke Avenue.
Visitors may not easily identify appropriate driveways designations, generating slow vehicle speeds on Cooke Avenue and possibly creating unnecessary U-turns, particularly at night.
As bus services are currently provided along Thompson Avenue, additional driveways will impact bus operations as well as travel time.
With a central parking area in the city’s option, vehicles may need to travel slightly longer to their parking spaces and generate more vehicle-vehicle conflicts.
However, these conflicts are generally created within parking lots where vehicle speeds are relatively slow.
Impacts to traffic operations in the surrounding roadways and intersections are expected to be low.
In a nutshell
The developer is proposing to have five buildings—three buildings with four units each and two buildings with six units each.
Two driveways are proposed for each four-unit building—four driveways on Cooke Avenue and two driveways on Thompson Avenue.
In addition, an access to the potential laneway is proposed off Cooke Avenue, which would connect to parking areas for two six-unit buildings.
Each unit will include three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a single or double car garage. The total living space will be approximately 2,000 square feet and at $150 per square foot, including land cost, it is the lowest possible price, said Ksiacek.
Ksiazek has conducted a preliminary review of servicing requirements for the site—a full city block—and is proposing the multiple-family dwellings within the one-block span on the former Cooke Avenue school site now zoned public institutional.
• Excessive fill placement will likely be required to facilitate access from Thompson Avenue.
• Construction of accesses on Thompson Avenue shall consider the location and condition of the existing water main.
• Multiple accesses on Cooke Avenue may have increased drainage impacts to Cooke Avenue and to the existing creek northeast of the site.
• Additional road improvements may be required to accommodate multiple shared accesses on Cooke Avenue.
On the road
Cezary Ksiazek has been trying to develop the former Cooke Avenue school site since it was purchased by a trio of local investors in early 2011, but he claims his attempts to bring an “affordable, low cost” development to the city have been slowed by red tape.
The current rezone application first came to light in September, 2011, but it wasn’t until Dec. 10, 2012 that a public hearing was held on the project.
The public hearing was followed by a council committee of the whole meeting Jan. 21, 2013 to discuss the issues raised at the public hearing. Ksiazek again met with the city on Feb. 8 and no common ground was found on the contentious points.
On July 31 Ksiacek met with three city officials—without senior city planner Mike Maturo who was on holidays—on the property to review the proposal’s contentious points as a prelude to the council meeting.
On Aug. 12 the re-zone application was to appear on council agenda for the night but it was taken off just three hours before the meeting after it was found council needed “further clarification on some of the information items in the application.”