By Collin Gallant on February 13, firstname.lastname@example.org @CollinGallant
Land just north of the Trans-Canada Highway could be the site of a new modular home park if city council agrees to rezone land once considered prime highway commercial real estate.
Members of the Municipal Planning Commission heard a plan by the Box Springs Business Park group to develop the lot directly west of the Rodeo Ford dealership as medium density residential.
“We don’t have anything against it as a commercial property but we just don’t see there being a market for it right now,” said Albert Stark, a Box Springs partner who spoke on behalf of the group.
The lot lays west of the Rodeo Ford car dealership, with access off Saamis Drive, south of heavy industry and rail line.
The first phase would consist of 85 modular home lots built on 6.1 hectares (15 acres) of land that’s already serviced.
Stark says the serviced lot has been vacant since 1977 and new mixed uses would make other nearby commercial developments more attractive to potential buyers, and that the park could help boost sales by local modular home manufacturer Moduline.
City planning staff opposed the change, stating it was ill-suited for residences due to noise and proximity to the rail line and heavy industrial plants to the north.
Commission members disagreed and voted 8-1 to recommend rezoning from a Highway Commercial zone, with only City representative Ed Jollymore opposed.
“My concern is that since 1977 it’s been serviced, that’s 37 years ago, now we have an opportunity,” said councillor Brian Varga, chair of the commission.
See Council, Page A1
Coun. Jim Turner says he saw the benefit of increasing tax revenue from the land and that a mobile home park’s temporary nature left the options open for future redevelopment.
The proposed change will arrive at council next week and be subject to a public hearing at second reading, likely at the March 3 meeting.
The site was at one time planned to be part of an “auto mile” concept where a number of dealerships would cover a long stretch of the highway.
However the site, which has utility service and a roads plan, has sat empty since 1977 as dealerships concentrated in Medicine Hat’s south end.
The one-time youth hostel in the middle of the parcel now acts as the offices for the Medicine Hat and District Labour Council and other local unions. It sits on its own lot and would remain in place, according to initial drawings.
“It may be an opportunity to provide some affordable housing to workers in the area, but there are risks as well,” said Chris Reddy, the City’s manager of planning services.
That includes inserting new residential in the area, which could limit future industrial uses in south Brier Park, just north of the site.
“It has great highway exposure but there are just not any takers,” said Pete Vanderham, a public member of the MPC and local commercial real estate agent.
He added that mobile home parks are difficult to place in any circumstance, that heavy industrial users are likely to avoid Brier Park, and condo developments south of the site have opened the door for residential zones.
The Access Condos, which sit south of the site on the other side of the dealership and another large parking lot, were also opposed by city staff when they were proposed about nine years ago.
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