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Appeal against the refusal of a Laneway house

February 10, 2017 / SDAB

On October 20, 2016, I filed an appeal against the refusal to Construct a 2 Laneway House (Garage Suite on second floor, Garage on main floor) existing without permits . On November 23, I appeared before the Edmonton Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) in a case that ended in favour of my appeal submission. Here is a brief summary of the issues and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board decision.

The case

The proposed Accessory Building (laneway House) has a footprint of 62.2m2. There is a balcony proposed with an area of 8.36m2 to between the laneway suite and the principal building. The top of the roof is measured at a maximum of 6.19m. The site meets all minimum lot areas and the proposed Accessory Building meets all required setbacks.

The Accessory Building is not adjacent to the principal dwelling of neighbouring properties. To the west, the Accessory Building is next to the neighbour’s garage. To the east, a driveway and vegetation separates the Accessory Building from the neighbour’s garage and driveway. To the south the Accessory Building is adjacent to a lane and a residential garage across the lane. To the north the Accessory Building is facing the principal building and the site is facing a school ground.

The issues

7 issues were outlined in the original refusal from the Development Authority. Here is a description of each issue.

Height issue: Section 87.2 states : “Maximum Height shall be 5.5m or up to 1.5m greater than the Height of the principal Dwelling as constructed at the time of the Development Permit Application, whichever is the lesser, where the building containing the Garage Suite as a roof slope of less than 4/12.”

Floor Area issue 1: Section 87.3(a) states : “The maximum Floor Area shall be 60m2 for a Garage Suite (above Grade).”

Floor Area issue 2: Section 87.3(c): The maximum Floor Area shall be increased by up to 7.5m2, only where this additional floor area comprises the area of a Platform Structure associated with the Garage Suite or Garden Suite.

Minimum separation to principal building issue: Section 87.7 states: “the minimum distance between a detached Garage containing a Garage Suite and a Garden Suite and the principal Dwelling on the same Site, shall be 4m.” Furthermore, Section 814.3.22: “ A principal building shall be separated from a rear detached Garage by a minimum of 3.0m.”

Location of balcony issue: Section 87.10 states: “ Platform Structures, including balconies, shall be allowed as part of a Garage suite developed above a detached Garage only where the balcony faces the lane of a flanking roadway.”

Drive aisle issue: Section 54.2 states: “Vehicular Parking Dimensions and Configuration – aisles shall be a minimum of 7.0m wide for a 90 degree parking, 5.5m wide for 60 degree parking and 3.6m wide for 45 degree parking and parallel parking”.

Discretionary issue: Section 110.3.3 states : “ A Garage suite is a Discretionary Use in the (RF1) Single Detached Residential Zone”.

The argument

The Development Authority identified all the variances incurred by the proposal but did not identify any tangible impacts associated with any of the requested items. My position and argument revealed that no variances required for the laneway house created a tangible impact. Below is an outline of my argument:

Height issue: The Accessory Building proposed a height of 6.19m, requiring a relaxation of 0.69m. The relaxation is minor and allowing for the additional height will not affect neighbouring properties. The closest structure on a neighbouring property is a garage. In addition, the Accessory Building is setback over 5.5m from the nearest property line which ensures that the minor increase to allowable height will not create negative impacts. The height could also be increased in the roof had been sloped.

Floor Area issue: The proposed Floor Area of 62.25 square metres requires only a minimal variance of 2.25 square metres. At 809.5 square metres this site is more than twice the minimum required area of 400 square metres for a Garage Suite. The excess of 2.25 square metres does not represent any overbuilding on the site.

Floor Area issue: The proposed total Floor Area, including the balcony, is 70.61 square metres, which would require a small variance of 3.11 square metres. The reason for the limit on balcony size is to prevent large gatherings of people which could result in excessive noise. The proposed balcony is not wide enough to even hold chairs and a table for dinner and is not intended for activities. It is only slightly over the maximum permitted Floor Area due to its length and the large size of the lot ensures there is no impact on neighbouring properties.

Minimum separation to principal building issue: Only a small portion of the corner of the proposed building does not meet the separation requirement and requires a variance of 1.34 metres. Due to this being a very large site, access from the front to the back of the lot can be achieved quite easily on both the east and west sides. This deficiency only affects the Principal dwelling and has no effect on neighbouring properties.

Location of balcony issue: The proposed balcony has no impact on the neighbouring properties as it faces the principal dwelling. I offered the Board to impose a condition reducing the size of the balcony by 3 metres from the west wall of the accessory building and adding 5 foot high privacy screening on the west end of the balcony. Although the neighbors to the west have not identified any issues this would increase their privacy and a variance would no longer be required for the maximum permitted Floor Area of the balcony.  

Drive aisle issue: I submitted that the access to the garage should be considered a driveway as opposed to a drive aisle. An aisle gives access to stalls in a parking lot and is associated with two-way traffic. It allows for a very quick one point turn into a parking stall. This is a private driveway entirely off the lane so the user can do a 2 or 3 point turn if required. 5.66 metres allows comfortable access to the garage and the 1.34 metre variance has no impact on surrounding properties.  

Discretionary issue: There are no reasons why the Development Authority should use its discretion to refuse the use of a Laneway House. All required variances are minor and will not affect neighbouring properties. The large Site Area and Setbacks make this a very suitable site for a Garage Suite.

The decision for the Laneway House

It was decided that the appeal for the laneway house would be allowed and the decision of the Development Authority was overturned.

You can see the full decision from the Edmonton SDAB HERE.

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