DARRYL KNIGHT & DAN CEARNS
UXBRIDGE: Residents and councillors alike have recently raised questions regarding proposed condominium townhouse development on Reach St.
Among the numerous issues that have been noted with the planned 55-unit development are a lack of parking, a loss of mature trees, potential snow clearing issues and the overall density of the proposed development.
Dozens of area residents attended a public meeting in late-June, that saw developers pitch their plans for the proposed development, located at 241 Reach St.
“We’ve included a mix of unit sizes to accommodate a range of households,” Howard Friedman, of HBR Planning Centre Inc., representing applicants Robert and Donna Kennedy and Sally Thomas, explained to council. Mr. Friedman also noted that the applicants had worked with a design team “to address all aspects of the application.”
As well, he noted that the development would have “appropriate landscaping to allow the development to exist without adverse effects on the existing neighbourhood.”
However, many members of council felt that the number of visitor parking spaces - 12 in total, with four reserved as handicapped spaces - was far too low.
“Twelve spaces is not sufficient in my humble opinion,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor. “You could have that many cars at one house for Christmas for instance. You’ll need to address parking in a big way.”
The mayor also raised concerns over the plan in its current state including, size of the front and back yards, and removal of snow and garbage.
Ward 2 Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pat Molloy shared the concerns over visitor parking, which some residents worried would result in a spill-over onto Reach St. As well, Councillor Molloy questioned the level of density planned for the property.
“I can’t stand going to visit someone at a condo and not being able to park anywhere, which seems to be really common these days. I think you’re way, way too short on parking and you’ve got too much on this property,” said Councillor Molloy.
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet also noted issues with density in that particular area of Uxbridge, featuring a unique mix of current housing.
“I’m struggling with the density. In this area, you’ve got semi-rural properties on Reach St., low density behind in Coral Creek, and adding in high density. In my opinion, the density is far too high as it stands today,” commented Councillor Highet.
According to Mr. Friedman’s presentation, about 40 per cent of the current treed area of the land would be kept intact. But, residents have been vocal about trying to retain as much of the current tree population as possible.
An on-line petition to stop the proposed 55 unit condo on Reach St. had grown to almost 400 supporters when it was included as part of council’s agenda for their July 13 meeting.
The petition was started by resident Karen Lantigua, who told The Standard that the petition differs from others because it is more than a signature.
“Every comment on this petition is cc’d to the town clerk and the urban planner,” she said. “I think this kind of petition is great because it’s not just a signature, it’s comments and opinions.”
Ms. Lantigua said that she decided to start the petition because there were a number of local residents wanting to know more about the issue.
“The letter about the rezoning was only sent out to a small area and everyone we talked to said that they wanted to know more,” she said. “I think we felt the need to involve the people, and came across change.org, and then it kind of grew from there.”
Local artist and Environmental studies doctoral candidate Erica Gajewski worked with Ms. Lantigua to start this petition. She said that the trees on the property are one of the main concerns with this development.
“You can see those trees from all throughout the community,” Ms. Gajewski said. “Some of those trees are 80 to 100 years old. If they are removed, then we will be no different than any other community.”
She also added that this issue is not just about the development itself, but the future of the community as well.
“It taps into a larger issue of smart growth and the benefit that trees provide,” she said. “I think we have entered a new paradigm where we are no longer going out and clearing things.”
During the public meeting, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger urged the developers to contact the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority for more information regarding low-impact development amid concerns from councillors and residents over stormwater management and run-off as part of the proposal.
At the conclusion of the recent public meeting, Mr. Friedman informed the crowd on hand that the developer would review the comments made.
“We’ve heard the comments and we know we have to address that,” he said.
As well, councillors thanked the public and the proponents of the development for their respectful tone throughout the public meeting.
“I really appreciate that this wasn’t confrontational or adversarial. With that sort of openness, things can really move forward,” said Ward 4 Councillor Fred Bryan.
As well, Mayor O’Connor gave a glowing review of all involved with the recent public meeting.
“This was probably one of the best public meeting in my 30-plus years on council,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “We all have questions and we all have concerns and everyone handled themselves extremely well.”
To get involved with the on-line petition, visit www.change.org and search for ‘Uxbridge’.
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