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Zoning amendments approved for Bond Head

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

Residents worry about traffic congestion in Bond Head. Looking west on County Rd. 88, towards the intersection with 27 in Bond Head. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

Residents worry about traffic congestion in Bond Head. Looking west on County Rd. 88, towards the intersection with 27 in Bond Head. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

Residents of Bond Head came to BWG Council on Tuesday night, objecting to zoning bylaw amendments requested by Bond Head Properties 2 and Bond Head Properties 3 Inc., for two plans of subdivision comprising 334 new single detached homes at the north end of the hamlet.

Concerns expressed in open forum ranged from traffic, to setbacks. But as a planning report to council noted, the developers have heard the public comments, and already dropped some of their more contentious requests.

Developers had asked for an increase in maximum height of all buildings to 12.5 metres, but agreed to abide by the existing standard of 11 metres for new homes built adjacent to existing residences.

They also dropped requests for unrestricted driveway widths, placement of air conditioners in sideyards only 0.5 metres from the next home, and encroachment of stairs and porches into sight triangles — a safety issue that had concerned staff.

Concerns that some new homes fronting on County Rd. 27 would be set back only three metres from the street proved to be a misunderstanding: the homes are set back three metres from the lot line, but an extra-wide boulevard means that it is an additional 7.65 metres to the actual roadway — a total of 10.625 metres from house to road.

The boulevard will accommodate sidewalks, trails and landscaping, the report noted; the new homes, while presenting an attractive facade to the road, will be accessed from the rear.

And a proposal to allow accessory suites in garages was also misunderstood: a secondary “carriage house” suite on top of the garage would be permitted only if the property can accommodate an extra parking space, for a total of three spaces.

Traffic remained an issue. “Sometimes I can get out of my laneway, sometimes I can’t,” Doug Jackson told councillors, especially on weekends when traffic is bumper to bumper, “and if something happens on the 400, it’s a total disaster... The new development north of Bond Head, there’s going to be times when it’s difficult to get out onto the highway.”

“You’re relying on a 2012 traffic study that was provided by the developer,” said Jennifer deWinter, insisting that a bypass around Bond Head “is essential if growth is coming to Bond Head.”

Council thanked residents for their input, but spoke in favour of the development.

“I look at things pragmatically,” said Councillor Gary Lamb, noting that the Early Payment Agreement 3 with residential developers provided the funds to bring servicing to both the Hwy. 400 employment lands and the hamlet of Bond Head – and development in Bond Head was part of the package. “The realism is that we need to encourage development in this community to pay the bills.”

The town must pay back a portion of the money upfronted in the agreement. “If we don’t get the development, we’re going to be sitting on the hook for that,” Lamb said, noting that provincial policy restricts new development to settlement areas like Bradford and Bond Head, to minimize impact on farmland.

“This is low density. This is everyone’s dream,” said Coun. Mark Contois. “The province has basically stated, we’re going to build in these zones, we’re not going to take farmland any more... It’s not going to get any better.”

As for the Bond Head bypass, that is a county decision, residents were told. Coun. Peter Dykie Jr. urged the town to “immediately to sit down with the county and work on the bypass. We need to come up with a plan. We need to be aggressive.”

“The plan for the bypass has not been forgotten,” said town Chief Administrative Officer Geoff McKnight, noting that as a condition of development, the Bond Head developers have agreed to convey land needed for the bypass to the county at no charge.

The plans of subdivision and lot sizes were approved in 2012; the zoning bylaw amendments simply allow the developer to execute the plans, noted Mayor Rob Keffer, adding that the key is now to ensure Bond Head “does grow in a way that is pleasing, that will integrate new and old... The parks are there. The green space is there.” New homes fronting on County Road 27, combined with landscaping, will provide a “gateway effect,” he said.

“As your mayor, I am still committed to making sure Bond Head is a liveable, well-planned ... community.”

The zoning bylaw amendments were approved 6-1, Councillor Ron Orr voting against.