Rezoning for controversial development approved

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Airdrie City council unanimously approved rezoning of the property at 309 Main Street North at its regular meeting Nov. 20 to accommodate the construction of a health services building.

A public hearing held during the Nov. 6 council meeting was adjourned to allow councillors time to review all of the material presented and re-opened at the Nov. 20 meeting. While no one came forward to speak Nov. 20, city staff indicated 59 letters of support for the project and one letter against the development had been received between the Nov. 6 and Nov. 20 meetings.

“(It’s been) three years in the making. I can’t believe it’s actually approved but (I’m) extremely thankful for the team that I have for their hard work, support. It’s been a lot,” said Dr. Kyla Miller, the property owner.

Miller, who owns Central Health, first applied to have the property rezoned to allow her to build a two-story purpose built health services building in March 2016, but was met with significant concern from residents regarding parking, privacy and safety. Council turned down her request at that time.

Miller then engaged the services of an architect, traffic impact analyst and geotechnical engineer and held an open house for residents July 10. She re-submitted a revised application Nov. 6, which she said dealt with many of the concerns residents of the area had.

Miller said she tried to go “above and beyond in meeting expectations and being able to produce something beautiful for the downtown core.

“In my opinion, from the start, we have tried our very best to address whatever concerns that the neighbouring residents have had to the best of our ability,” she said. “I understand, for them, it’s emotional on a different side. I hope that we can come together and that five years down the road, when there is no construction traffic and they can see that I can be a good neighbour in the business realm, that this was all for the greater good.”

But not everyone agreed with Miller’s assessment. Sara Buchanan lives a block west and three blocks north of Miller’s property and was vehemently opposed to the rezoning. She said she was “really disappointed” in council’s decision to approve the application.

“If the development heads north up Main Street, then pretty soon I’m going to be the neighbour to commercial,” she said. “I don’t want to stay in the community because I don’t want to deal with all the construction…and the added traffic in the community. It’s just frustrating that council took into no consideration what would happen to all of us residents.”

Council did try to address some of the residents’ concerns by adding conditions to the development permit.

“Staff would like council to consider two additional conditions that could be added to the development permit application in order to address some of the residents’ concerns,” said Karl Mielke, planner with the City of Airdrie. “One of them would be…. the developer shall submit copies of the development site servicing plan.”

The other condition would be the submission of a construction management plan, which would outline things like where contractors and workers would park during construction. Parking was cited as a key concern by residences in the area surrounding the property.

Council asked that these two conditions, as well as a condition that parking for leaseholders of the building be assigned both in the underground parkade and the surface lots request by Coun. Al Jones, be added to the requirements for the development permit application. With those inclusions, council unanimously approved the development permit.

Now that the rezoning and development permit have been approved by council, Miller will next have to apply for a building permit, a process she said could take eight to 12 weeks.

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