Town punts approval of Hazel Street townhouse development

Councillors aren’t quite ready to approve a townhouse development even though it fits with existing zoning bylaws and official plan requirements.

At the behest of Mayor Wayne Redekop, councillors deferred a report at the June 10 council-in-committee meeting that would have approved a draft plan of vacant land condominium. Instead they’re asking staff to go back to the developers to see if they’ll budge on a plan councillors say does nothing to address the shortage of affordable and attainable homes.

“This doesn’t address any of our needs,” Redekop said, referring to a recent housing needs study that identified purpose-built rentals, smaller units, units for seniors and affordable homes as top needs in town.

The existing proposal calls for 93 townhouse units in 13 blocks on the north side of Hazel Street and east side of Belleview Boulevard, on the former site of Bertie Public School. There would be three entrances to the development, two on Hazel and one on Belleview. All units would front onto internal roads.

“I’m under no illusion what the target market is for these units, they’re very high end,” said Councillor Nick Dubanow, adding he doesn’t want to see another community that’s fenced off from the rest of the neighbourhood.

Because no zoning bylaw or official plan amendments are required, public input on the development has been limited.

Emily Elliott, a consultant with MHBC Planning, spoke on behalf of the developers, Schout Communities Inc., at the May 27 council meeting. The plan received a likewise frosty reception then, when Redekop asked Elliott if they were aware the Town is of the position that it has more than enough townhomes.

Elliott responded by saying the property was zoned to permit them, and that the units are “well designed, visually interesting, and feature high quality materials.”

On Monday, Redekop said it was “pretty clear this developer has been focused on townhouses from day one.”

Given the existing policies in place, he said the Town and residents are in a difficult spot. The Town can deny the draft plan, which would set up a possible appeal from the developers to the Ontario Land Tribunal. But if approved, there’s no ability for residents to appeal. Only the Town could, which makes no sense in a decision councillors approved.

In the end, Redekop’s motion to defer was approved. The mayor also suggested having the development rejigged so that all the units on Belleview face west in an attempt to ensure a sidewalk gets built.

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