City sells sliver of boulevard to allow homeowner to subdivide

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
June 13th, 2012

Council agreed on Monday evening to sell Tim Manke, owner of 2213 Fourth Ave, a roughly 16-inch by 100-foot strip of city boulevard so his lot will meet the minimum size required for subdivision.

The strip runs along the western edge of his lot—the St. Paul side. In return, the city would receive a 3-metre wide snow storage “statutory right of way” along this same stretch of boulevard.

In addition, the city will collect “roughly $2300” in sales revenue and, if the property is subdivided, the city will gain the potential for new tax revenues. Manke has agreed to pay all transaction, surveying, and registration costs, staff wrote.

City staff presented Manke’s proposal to council, arguing that the property is within the R-1 Infill zone that encourages higher density housing. With the lot’s new 60-foot wide dimensions, “there should be ample space for siting a building within the anticipated southern portion if/when the lot is subdivided,” staff wrote.

Not everyone on council agreed with the decision.

Coun. Cary Fisher said, “I know it’s only a sliver that goes into the boulevard,” and added, “I like the idea of infill, I like the idea of the person being able to subdivide the lot. I agree with the staff recommendation for infill lots.”

However,  Fisher was uncomfortable with the precedent it sets. “In this particular case, how far do we go?” he asked, wondering about future requests for land purchases.

Referring to the in camera meeting that dealt with this issue and at which, presumably, Fisher was absent, Mayor Greg Granstrom said, “That was the discussion, and it’s going to be up to council how to set that [precedent].”

Coun. Kathy Wallace said, “There were some of us who were very uncomfortable about that. It is precedent setting, and then it becomes a slippery slope.”

“But we did have the answer that there are very few lots in the community that are of this particular nature that they’re so close to being large enough, but not quite,” she said.

“Besides that,” she said, “we also get additional snow storage, which benefits the community as well.”

Coun. Kathy Moore added, “The conclusion was that each one of these would come for individual consideration. It’s not setting a precedent so much as we look at each individual case [to decide] if it makes sense.”

Fisher replied, “The only problem is, I’ve been on the other side of [decisions] being passed where it’s okay for one person, but not for the other. It makes it difficult for the person who’s going to come in the door the next time and we say no. I’ve been on the other side and have been told no, go do something else.”

Coun. Tim Thatcher agreed, “I’m still not in favour. I don’t like to set precedents like that, even though we look at each individual case differently. How do you say yes to somebody and no to somebody else? I don’t think it’s a good road to go down, setting precedents like this.”

Council passed the Request For Council Decision with five in favour and Thatcher and Fisher opposed.

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