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How to obtain approval for a front Driveway
The latest decision from the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board
I recently represented a client in front of the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) of the City of Calgary. The appeal was launched against my client following an approval from the City of Calgary. The community association was against the approval because the proposed Semi-Detached Dwelling had an under drive garage from the street. Since one of the two dwelling units was adjacent to a lane, the community group felt that the access to the garage should be moved to the side lane. As always, when a decision made by the city is challenged, it forces all the parties involved to scrutinize the regulations and policies.
So here is the latest position on front drive
A number of regulations and policies (both statutory and non statutory) overlap. Starting with the Infill Guidelines, front drive access is discouraged. The Infill Guidelines encourages the use of lane access whenever possible. It has a number of policies explaining the benefit of lane access and the detriments associated with disturbing access across a sidewalk. Following the Infill Guidelines, the local Area Redevelopment Plan does not always discuss front drive but will often encourage consistency to the street context and support the requirement of the Land Use Bylaw. That being said, it all boils down the the test of the Bylaw (zoning). In Calgary, the land use bylaw only has one test for front drive. As long as at least 50% of the bloc face has front driveways, a new driveway can be approved.
After a long and detailed evaluation of the situation by the SDAB, the conclusion was in favor of our initial position. Even if access is possible from a lane, if more then 50% of the properties on a the street face has a front drive access, approval should be granted. Any potential alternative should be seen as a preference not a regulatory requirement.
Although the final position is clear, when presenting to a local appeal board we should always look at a project in its entirety. Being able to make a logical case for a well thought out project is always better. We should never forget that the SDAB is composed of volunteers required to make a decision within a few hours. Being right is not always the deciding factor. Having a sensitive and well designed project always prevails.