July 21st, 2024

City council to consider South County Village replacement facility

By Medicine Hat News on July 4, 2024.

South Country Village could likely see a major redevelopment move ahead at the retirement community after a rezoning application was passed by council. The next step is to apply for a development permit to build a 126-unit apartment block and demolish one of the original buildings. -- News Photo Collin Gallant, July 3, 2024.


South Country Village is considering a modern replacement facility for some wings of its retirement home complex.

The plan, to erect a modern, four-storey, 126-unit apartment block at the site, near Gershaw Drive, was laid out Tuesday as council considered a rezoning applicant to accommodate the development.

“We’ve been working on the design for a while and it’s a preview of the development permit,” architect Alvin Fritz told council during a public hearing on the land zoning change.

The site, at 1720 Bell Street, S.W., is currently zoned as a community service district, which no longer includes dense housing has a permitted use.

The owners applied for the rezoning in June, which city planners say supports city’s economic growth goals and is a suitable use for the site that sits between highway commercial zones fronting Gershaw Drive and a mobile home park.

“Medium-Denisty Residential is the appropriate zoning for the site,” based on amenities available and potential other uses for the parcel, said city planning officer Shawn Champagne.

Council members unanimously approved the change.

There is no immediate timetable for the work, which still requires a development permits.

Haven of Rest and South Country Village have operated at the site since 1947 with additional wings built over the years.

The new building would involve a main floor of offices and amenities with three levels of residential units above.

“It’s a replacement facility that would be increasing the unit count, but it’s creating new premises and new homes,” said Fritz. “One of the older facilities, Sunnyside, would be removed in the proposal.”

“The height has been vetted against the (nearby) airport requirements.”

The building measures 41,000-square-feet on the main floor, and a small addition is being considered pending grant applications.

One resident of Tower Estates, Beverley Schaeffer, submitted a statement of opposition, questioning traffic safety issues that may result from the intensification. She said lights are needed on Highway No. 3 near the entrance to Medicine Hat Regional.

City planners said the issue as well as transit service in the area is being considered.

Adding apartments could add 50 per cent to the site’s current $31-million property tax assessment, resulting in potential additional tax revenue of $115,000 at 2023 mill-rates, councillors heard.

Wednesday’s meeting of the municipal planning commission was cancelled due to an expected lack of quorum.

Without the expected minimum number of members to transact business, the agenda was held over to the next meeting date on July 17.

An initial report showed a request by Bevo Farms to officially change use of its facility in the Box Springs business park to “agricultural greenhouse use after conversion began this spring on the former Aurora Sun “cannabis production facility.”

That application requires the direct approval of MPC and city council as the land is zoned as a direct control district.

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