July 25th, 2024

Development of old motel into housing OK’d by planning commission

By COLLIN GALLANT on January 18, 2024.

A former motel at 24 Fourth St. NW is being redeveloped into apartment rentals and has been issued a development permit after the municipal planning commission ruled on the proposal Wednesday.--News Photo Collin Gallant

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

A former motel in Riverside closed by police two years ago can be redeveloped to continue as a longer-term apartment rental site, the municipal planning commission ruled Wednesday.

New owners of the 13-unit one-level complex at 24 Fourth St. NW said they plan to renovate and operate as a quality affordable housing location.

About 20 nearby neighbours appeared at the meeting to relay concerns of the buildings’ return to dealing with short stay and transient population that was blamed for crime, vandalism and damage in the area in 2022.

It has sat vacant for sale since closing in the fall of that year – longer than a six-month limit that required a new development permit even though the use remains the same as a multiple-unit rental property.

“We are fully aware of the issues, but these were the issues of the previous owner,” said current owner Annie Chow, adding she and her husband have experience with rental properties and have lived in Medicine Hat for 20 years.

They plan to renovate the buildings, clean up the site and manage it on a full-time basis, she said.

“We need new management, bringing in the right tenants. That will make it a good place to raise a family. We’re a family, we have children and we have a desire to make this a better place.”

Commission members voted 6-1 in favour of allowing the permit, which technically could have been approved by the department without a commission ruling.

Owing to the high profile nature of the property, a billboard was placed at the site to inform neighbours, garnering more than 60 submissions from 44 neighbours.

MPC chair Coun. Andy McGrogan said conditions on the permit include compliance with building codes, Alberta Health standards for rental units and observation by police.

“The social disruption that was at the site was very real concern, but the matter before us is whether this fits with the development plan,” he said.

Since the property has been unoccupied and non-operated for a period of six months, a new development permit was required and the buildings considered vacant. The development permit essentially allows the business to be restored, said planning staff.

Holy Tataryn works at a nearby business and told the commission that conditions under the former owner were intolerable, with drug paraphernalia, excrement and stolen property littered around the property.

“It was a very negative situation,” she told the meeting. “And not all the problems stay at the location, it affected the whole community.”

Chow told reporters after the meeting the goal is to invest in the property and maintain it. She owns other rental properties in town and does employment checks before signing lease agreements.

Affordable housing and crime are not the same thing, she said.

Planners recommended the permit move forward as it meets the city’s overall planning goal of supporting redevelopment in mature communities, and the use was not in conflict with the city’s overall land-use plan or the specific Riverside overlay.

Commercial zone change

A developer has applied to rezone large commercial lots in the south end of town to mixed use, thereby opening up the area to residential as well as commercial use.

A parcel located at 19 Paul Stober Bay would be rezoned to accommodate construction of an apartment building in the area that is currently zoned as a highway commercial land.

A public hearing at city council will be required.

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