Residents slam high density infill development
Developer is proposing sixteen 3-storey townhomes on a 1 acre property fronting on Barrie St. in Bradford. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network
Residents crammed into the Zima Room at the Bradford Library, for a Public Meeting under the Planning Act on October 17.
They were there to comment on the plan of subdivision and Zoning By-law Amendment application of Lions Estates (Ont. Co. #2393323) and John Nunes for a 1.09 acre property at 266 Barrie St. in Bradford.
The proposal, presented by Groundswell Urban Planners Inc. and summarized by town planner Brandon Slopak, calls for 16 three-storey townhomes on a cul-de-sac accessed from Barrie St.
The land is currently zoned R1-1, which allows only single family detached residences. The developer asked to rezone to R2-2, allowing higher density townhomes, and requested a number of exceptions, reducing minimum frontage from 6 to 5.49 metres, minimum lot area, and minimum front and rear yard setbacks.
Prior to the meeting, BWG Fire & Emergency Services and the County of Simcoe expressed concerns that there was an insufficient turning circle in the cul-de-sac, to accommodate either fire trucks or county garbage trucks; and By-law enforcement pointed to the lack of visitor parking, noting that “on street parking is not permitted on Barrie St.”
The Town's Community Services Dept. raised concerns regarding snow storage and stormwater management, and warned that the sanitary sewers appear to be too shallow.
The LSRCA asked for more information on pre- and post-development water balances, loss of water storage on site, and a species at risk inventory. The Town also received 5 letters, from residents opposed to the plan.
And residents of neighbouring Stoddart Court filled the room for the meeting, voicing strong concerns. Donna Gustafson called it “unconscionable” to consider a development that doesn't meet minimum requirements or fit the neighbourhood.
She pointed out that the the 3-storey townhomes, with their porches and balconies, will overlook single-storey residences on Barrie St., and the 35' high townhouse blocks will cast a shadow on existing backyards. “There's a complete loss of privacy,” she said.
She also warned against accepting the cul-de-sac as a public road, as the developer has requested. “If the garbage trucks can't navigate that cul-de-sac, how will the Town's snow removal equipment?” More importantly, if the Town accepts the cul-de-sac, it means that the townhomes are “street townhouses” - and the developer only needs to provide 2 parking spaces per unit, not 2.5 as required for Townhouse blocks.
Gustafson also called an arborist's report, which recommended saving 8 mature trees, “deceptive.” All of the trees on the subject property will be cut down, she said; the 8 trees are in neighbouring yards – and the arborist predicts the loss of 7 existing mature trees belonging to the neighbours. She warned against sacrificing existing residents “to maximize profit for the developer.”
Other speakers cited loss of privacy, loss of mature trees on their lots, shadowing by the large blocks, construction damage to backyard fences and pools, parking issues, traffic, and loss of property values.
“Stand up and protect the rights of existing citizens, and not the profit margins of developers,” Penelope Vienot told Council.
John Patsalides warned Council against “building helter-skelter to meet future density requirements,” critical of several recent high-density proposals - calling it “inordinate density, disproportionate to the land area.”
Patsalides said, “I understand that some kind of building has to take place in Bradford,” urging Council to work with citizens “for everybody's welfare... Small is beautiful. Build less townhouses on this property... Build 4. Build 5. Make them horizontal like other properties on Barrie. We love our trees – preserve them. Provide ample parking. Do not increase the congestion in Bradford. Build in a way that enhances the existing properties. Less is more.”
Rather than “unfettered acquiescence to a developer's greed... scale down these developments.”
Then it was Council's turn. Coun. Gary Lamb suggested that by eliminating the side walk around the cul-de-sac, the developer could create an extra parking space in each driveway. Most Courts in Bradford do not have sidewalks.
“All the issues that were brought forward were very valid,” said Coun. Peter Ferragine. “The sanitary sewers are too shallow – that's a red flag for me; the parking, the loss of trees. This proposal to me does seem too much.”
Coun. Mark Contois suggested it was “too aggressive,” asking for too many exceptions. “Preserve the trees. Preserve the privacy of backyards,” Contois said, suggesting the elimination of 4 townhomes. “I hope to see the developer make some changes. I don't ever want to see damage to someone else's tree on someone else's property.”
“I hope the applicant listens and learns from these comments,” said Deputy Mayor James Leduc. “I look forward to our second submission, because this just doesn't cut it.”
Brad Rogers, with Groundswell, thanked residents and Council for their comments. “The whole purpose of a public meeting is for us to listen.” Rogers said he was “happy” to eliminate the side walk and expand the radius of the turn circle – but defended the height of the townhomes as “less than is in your by-law,” and the high density of the infill. As for the comments, “we will take them into consideration... try to come to some compromise.”