February 28th, 2024

Public hearing Monday on proposed Hill home build

By COLLIN GALLANT on October 12, 2023.

A house located near an outcropping of the Southeast Hill (top-centre) is again the subject of a development application where the owner plans to build a new large home on the lot. A similar plan in 2022 was defeated at city council after nearby neighbours objected over concerns for stability of the nearby slope.--News File Photo

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

A plan to build a luxury home on an outlook of the Southeast Hill will again move to public hearing Monday, and neighbours are again questioning how construction may affect their properties.

Property owner Rick Wahl wants to demolish the home at 1123 Sixth Ave. SE to build a much larger personal residence to live in, and will argue for the second time in a year that council should approve the development permit.

Last summer, a tied council vote defeated the request after residents and some councillors said not enough was known about slope stability in the wider area.

A re-application at the municipal planning commission was forwarded last month to council, stating the planning department requires conditions to maintain stability and drainage, but the development could proceed if the developer certifies a new geotechnical survey and assumes future risk at the property.

Wahl, the longtime owner of a local construction and development company, told the News at that time he was confident in the geomatic survey of the land.

Neighbours who feared the disruption to the Hillside in 2022 are again planning to present against the development at the Oct. 16 public hearing at council.

“We’re not opposed to development, but we want to ensure the stability of our home and the homes in the neighbourhood,” said Darolyn Hainey, who lives across the street from the parcel.

She and her husband have lived there for decades and fear that piles, foundations and general construction could affect older homes and the hillside.

Council is required to approve the development application as the land is zoned as a “direct control” district.

The home in question is addressed to the avenue, even though no roadway exists there. It faces 11th Street, which overlooks the Seven Persons Creek coulee and Kipling Street. From it, a panoramic view affords scenes of three flour mills and the entire South Flats.

But, neighbours state that a general slope setback policy developed by city planners in 2012 should be enough to bar more intensive development.

Decades ago the city began purchasing homes on the slope side of Sixth Avenue, closer to downtown, and also extended a standing offer to purchase the 11th Street property.

But, when a deal was negotiated in 2016 with the former property owner, city council quashed the agreement stating that developable land shouldn’t be turned into environmental reserve. The general plan was to demolish the house and fold the parcel into green space near the end of the Sixth Avenue Trail.

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