More than 5,600 homes in Abbotsford are in homes permitting infill in the city’s Official Community Plan.

More than 5,600 homes in Abbotsford are in homes permitting infill in the city’s Official Community Plan.

Height cap moves forward for new houses in central Abbotsford

New regulations would reduce heights for rebuilds on 5,362 lots in ‘infill’ areas

More than 5,000 homeowners could see changes to what can be built on their land if they choose to tear down their house and build a new one.

The changes would decrease the maximum height of new houses in so-called “infill areas” from 9.5 metres to 8.5 metres.

After a year-long study, planners proposed rezoning 5,362 lots currently designated for infill in the city’s Official Community Plan. Those lots are in older neighbourhoods in central Abbotsford that permit small subdivisions whereby aging houses are torn down and one or two lots are turned into two or three new ones. (The rezoning won’t apply to a handful of homes in the area.)

The city stopped accepting applications for new infill builds last year after hearing concerns from neighbours. Feedback from residents later revealed that people were concerned about the size of new houses being constructed, but were otherwise generally fine with subdivisions if new homes were moderately sized.

The changes would also limit the size of a house’s upper storey to 80 per cent of the ground floor and would tweak basement regulations.

Coun. Sandy Blue, who chairs the city’s development advisory committee, said the rules were formed after significant consultation with residents and builders. She added that the upcoming public hearing will be the last chance for homeowners and others to chime in on the topic.

“When it goes forward to public hearing, that’s the last opportunity to be heard.”

Prior to that meeting, comments can be made and questions can be asked at Letstalkabbotsford.ca.

Council voted unanimously to send the new rules to a public hearing. Coun. Bruce Banman, who had voted against the suggested changes when the issue appeared before council earlier this month, was absent. Banman had expressed concern that the rules regarding the sizes of upper floors would add to the cost of building new houses.

The public hearing will take place on June 24. Notices advising of the hearing will be sent to each home at the end of next week.