Plan to convert old home to multi-family dwelling defeated by council

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – A number of residents came out to a public hearing Tuesday night to express their displeasure at plans to level an historic home off Morinville’s downtown core to make way for a four-unit dwelling. That displeasure was recognized later in the evening when council voted unanimously against second reading of a rezoning bylaw that would allow it.

Morinville Town Council held the public hearing on a request to rezone 10008 99 Avenue from R1 (single detached) to R5 (medium density) after giving first reading of the redistricting request at their June 28 meeting.

The existing property is 62 feet by 144 feet and consists of a single detached home and garage. The property owner, Ron Fylyshtan, requested the redistricting to be able to put a four-plex on the property.The home, constructed in 1908, is part of Morinville’s historical walking tour; however, there is little historical significance left to the property. Major renovations undertaken in 1951 have left little historical architecture other than some double hung sash windows and canopies.

But for the 15 neighbours who came out in opposition to the proposal, it was not just the destruction of history but the potential destruction of what is a quiet neighbourhood that is at issue.

In a letter to the Town of Morinville, dated June 12, residents Teri and Troy Deatrich expressed their view the neighbourhood had the potential of becoming like historic areas of Edmonton where single family homes were preserved to maintain the historical integrity. “We have concerns that multiunit complexes would take away from the quiet and historical feel of the neighbourhood and instead give the neighbourhood an “inner-city” feel,” the couple wrote. The Deathrichs went on in the letter to argue their belief the proposed project would have insufficient parking to meet an existing Town of Morinville bylaw.

Mrs. Deatrich maintained that point of view when speaking to council during the July 12 public hearing. “I don’t want to see my quite little street turn into one where we have car after car after car going through,” Mrs. Deatrich said, adding she was concerned street parking on the one way street would impeded delivery trucks accessing the loading area of Home Hardware.

It was a position shared by Home Hardware owner Maurice Chevalier who wrote a letter of opposition expressing his concern parking would make delivery truck access nearly impossible on 100A Avenue. Additionally, Chevalier expressed concerns on long term growth and having additional residents so close to commercial operations.

Other opponents spoke to whether one could get two lots out of the 62-foot wide property and the limited availability of parking, particularly given the proximity to Home Hardware and other businesses, and whether there would be a 25-foot easement on the 62-foot property. Additionally one speaker expressed concern on where children from the development would play. There was an overall concern allowing the redistricting would pave the way to allow other multi-unit dwellings in the neighbourhood, further eroding the historical flavour of the district.

One, opponent, Bruce Jackson, moved to Morinville five years ago and was attracted by the town’s historical nature and good quality houses. “I think it is a shame to get rid of the heritage,” Jackson said. “You people spend more time and money on your festivals than most cities. You are proud of your heritage. I’d hate to see you lose your heritage. You see it in the cities every day.”

The proponent of the development, Ron Fylyshtan, was given an opportunity to respond to those opposed to his development. He said he believed the development would bring additional residents into the downtown core, people likely to spend money at local businesses. Additionally, Fylyshtan defended the parking criticisms, stating each of the four units would have two parking stalls as is required under Morinville’s Land Use Bylaw and that company would park on the street as they do anywhere else in town.

Second reading defeated

After the conclusion of the public hearing, Council immediately moved on to discussing second reading of the bylaw to allow the rezoning.

Councillor David Pattison compared the proposal to some historical areas of Edmonton where lots can cost up to $1 million but have houses with no value, a situation that leads to historic homes being knocked down to make room for new development. The councillor did not believe that to be the case in the area south of 100 Avenue. “I think the houses are still worth something in the area,” Pattison said. “Tell me otherwise. I just haven’t seen that presented here.”

Deputy Mayor Gordon Boddez said a sign the area is not ready for the change proposed by the bylaw was evidenced by the extent to which residents expressed their opposition. Boddez said Morinville should be looking at the entire downtown area, not just a piecemeal approach when development requests come up. “I think we’re premature in making this decision based on the feedback,” he said. “I think we need a broader look at the area.”

The motion for second reading was unanimously opposed defeating the request to rezone the area.

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  1. Reference Deputy Mayor Boddez’s comment “Morinville should be looking at the entire downtown area, not just a piecemeal approach when development requests come up. I think we’re premature in making this decision based on the feedback,” he said. “I think we need a broader look at the area.”
    This leaves me wondering if there aren’t two sets of rules, one for the Town’s own development projects and a more cautious and scrutinizing approach for private development. Or did Council actually learn something from the Morinville Community Cultural Centre fiasco?

  2. Give it up Tim, the only “Morinville Community Cultural Centre fiasco” is the one involving you.

    and where the heck were you when the festival was on??? I could hear the festival all the way accross town….did you happen to call the RCMP to have them quite down or is that just something you do for the Morinville Community Cultural Centre?

    it’s time you sucked it up and embraced the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. or at least keep your comments to yourself, cause everyone is sick of your whining.

  3. If a town is truly alive it has noise, if you want dead silence live across from the cemetery.

    Have a great summer and let us be more positive about the good things our town has and move on from the negative!

  4. Well once again Chris has nothing to add but his speculative attitude. Only got one thing for you Chris; this is a free and democratic country; people have a right to complain when they feel they have been wronged. Maybe just maybe you could look past the end of your nose and ask your civic leaders why no prior studies were done and why has this situation developed in the first place.

    To Ron: If this is the Ron I’m thinking of, life would be more positive if those responsible for poor decisions owned up to their failures and took adequate steps in mitigating the damage they created. But after a meeting with the CAO it is clear that the Town is not prepared to do everything that is necessary to preserve the quality of life for adjacent residents or the tranquillity of our neighbourhood which we enjoyed prior to this project.
    I will acknowledge you however, for at least having the honesty to admit to my face that it was you with the stereo blasting at 2am.

    Gentlemen, its always easy to say suck it up or be more positive when you yourself do not live here, and especially if you are one who directly profits financially from this facility.

  5. You’re completely right, this is a free and democratic country, which allows me to comment on your never ending whining about the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

    I don’t need to ask anyone about any studies….Why?? because I don’t see a problem with the building. I will admit when the plan to build the build was put into action I was not in favor of it…not for any of the reasons you have but for finacial reasons. But now that the building is done I would like to see it being used. or would you rather be like St.Albert and their Servus Place….build it and it doesn’t get used enough to break even.

    just to quote you tim
    “Gentlemen, its always easy to say suck it up or be more positive when you yourself do not live here, and especially if you are one who directly profits financially from this facility.”

    I do live here, and I have probably lived here long than you, I have lived here for over 25 years…how about you?

    and who’s profit’s from this building? Me? Ron? who???? oh yea the residents of morinville do…they get a new building that brings in entertainment and new nice place for people to host weddings and such.

    I see Morinville fired it’s CAO again…. you should apply 🙂

  6. Chris: It’s nice that you lived in Morinville for 25 years, but do you somehow feel more entitled because of that??? Let me set you straight my friend, we are Canadians, we all have the same right to live anywhere within this country we choose and to enjoy the same rights and freedoms regardless of where we decide to call home. We (Canadians) have the RIGHT to free speech under the Charter and the same and EQUAL rights to participate in Municipal, Provincial and Federal democratic processes, meaning you have no special privilege just because you lived here for an extended period of time. Really, do you somehow feel more entitled than the large number of Armed Forces and RCMP personnel that call Morinville home? Are you really that ignorant?
    As for who benifits from the Centre, it was built for the displaced groups from the Convent. How many of those groups now call the Centre home? Last count Zero.

    • Accepting the right of rebuttal to commentary, if we could all keep comments related to the article in question – namely council’s decision not to rezone a residential property – that would be appreciated.

  7. i am quite happy council disagreed with this proposal. when i first heard about i was very concerned about losing the quiet neighborhood. but after reading the comments i’m confused, this was an application to rezone a single family property to four unit dwelling. from what i understand about zoning, would’t the community cultural center be located in a zone that allows for schools, parks, community centres and libraries already? its a lovely facility, and its along the main drag anway. i just dont understand what the problem is.

  8. Cindy, zoning can be changed by Council to allow exemptions or just re-zoned period. And as stated in the original article by Deputy Mayor Boddez “I think we’re premature in making this decision based on the feedback,” he said. “I think we need a broader look at the area.”<<< This statement shows that Council is taking into consideration other factors, such as the views from surrounding residents who will be effected. And this is by all means a proper approach.
    The Centre is built on a S-P zoned lot, however before the building phase even began the Council of the day were made fully aware of the potential quality of life issues for adjacent residents, and they consciously decided to ahead with that project regardless. And that they would somehow deal with it later. The former CAO made it clear that the Town would not be willing to undertake steps recommended to eliminate the problem.
    On the few events that have occurred at the Centre, the feared problems have become a reality. It’s a great facility, but the Town knowingly placed it in the wrong location just to save a buck on real estate costs and they are now are unwilling to spend to correct the short falls. And that’s the problem.
    As I stated above, I really hope the request for a 4 dwelling unit was turned down for the right reasons, that Council actually learned something from the Centre's poor planning and that it wasn't turned down because the Town has two sets of rules, one for itself and one for everyone else.

  9. I believe this was a mistake. It should be what is in the interest of a growing community. Reality of the issue is that Morinville would benefit from a newerr cleaner building. Property value should increase if the building in question were tasteful. In order for a community to grow they will have to experience change. Dont fear it embrace it. My house will be in a similar situation and I will be filing to do the same thing. The reality of the situation is these homes are burdens, they are limited in the ability to renovate. They are fire hazards and they are shifting. These homes are a burden to the home owners as well as the fire departments. They don’t meet todays standards of lot placement as they are too close to the road. It is a matter of public safety. Now I don’t believe that the community shouldn’t have imput to the design and there are some significant concerns if they designs are not appealing.

  10. Future Developer, these older houses are a burden to the fire department? Seriously? I would think all of those new zero lot line houses would be the burden. If one starts on fire, you might as well say buh-bye to them all. At least our houses are spaced far enough apart that if our neighbour’s house burns, we don’t have to worry nearly as much about ours starting on fire too.

    And if your house is too far gone to renovate or save, knock it down and build a new single family home in it place. Make it fit in with the neighbourhood. There are many lots over in The Lakes that are zoned for multi-family dwellings. Build one there instead.

    I will wait for your application for re-zoning and I (and my neighbours) will be there to fight you on it, just as we did here. I don’t want my and my family’s quality of life to diminish because you want more money in your pocket. Leave our neighbourhood alone!

    And Tim, you chose to live next to a non-residentially zoned area, AND a highway. What did you expect? I chose to live in a R1 zone area, not an R5. Your fight and mine are not the same, so stay out of it.

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