Council continued to trudge through the details of the revised zoning bylaw at a committee of the whole meeting on Monday, struggling again with the balance between infill and congestion.
The document continues to evolve, a process planning staff hopes to continue at a public planning session today, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Prestige. Homeowners have been mailed to notify them of the changes proposed for their properties.
Mayor Greg Granstrom thinks it’s good to deliberate carefully, and he doesn’t want to rush: “There’s going to be lots of time. It’s not a race to the finish line,” he said.
Following concerns about the seven-metre height limit originally proposed for detached secondary suites, planning staff have reduced that value to six metres, calculating that this still eaves enough room for a garage beneath a suite.
The issue of setbacks was addressed as well. Rossland used to have seven-metre setbacks, front and back, “sterilizing” more than 45 per cent of the lot, said city planner Mike Maturo. Since four-metre setbacks were instituted in 2008, “we haven’t heard a bunch of uproar. People want to use their lot efficiently,” Maturo said.
Coun. Laurie Charlton suggested setbacks for new buildings could be calculated from an average of existing buildings on a block, to keep them lined up, but Spearn argued in favour of the “jiggy jaggy” variety of existing setbacks in Rossland and noted that sometimes views are made worse by pushing buildings deeper into a lot.
“You can plant trees on your property line and that impacts the view as well,” Maturo suggested. He said that given the mountainous terrain, small setbacks reduce cut-and-fill and bring more houses into compliance. “We’ve cut down on the load coming to council and admin,” Maturo said.
Spearn also raised the concern that “I don’t want to get frustrated by creating more density without addressing parking.”
Another perennial topic was duplexes, called “two family detached” dwellings in the regulations.
Regarding the long-winded name, assistant planner Stacey Lightbourne said, “other communities are moving towards that.”
Maturo explained, “We found the stigma attached to duplexes is causing a lot of fuss. We want to get away from a term that seems to conjure up the aliens.”
They also hope to reduce perennial controversies over the issue of duplexes by allowing them in certain zones “as long as people have a large enough lot and can support the parking and the pipes,” Lightbourne said.
The proposed bylaw would allow residential lots in the “infill zone” that are 60-by-100-feet or larger, to have a two family detached dwelling.
“This isn’t a sea change,” Maturo assured council. “Two family detached is the baby step you take if you want to see some housing diversity.” Even then, he expects change to come gradually over the course of decades.
Rossland is characterized by an abundance of single family homes, and a deficit in most other kinds of housing stock.
In principle, council agreed with duplexes in the infill zone. Charlton noted there wasn’t much difference between two single family homes on 30-by-100-foot lots or a duplex on a 60-by-100-foot lot, and the mayor agreed he didn’t have problem with duplexes on “real lots,” 6,000 sq. ft. or larger.
The public input session begins at 6 p.m. tonight, Thursday, at the Prestige.