From left, committee members Bill Sheldon and Bernie Law. YOUTUBE

Infilling proposal rejected by Committee of Adjustment

Despite advice from the Planning Department to the contrary, the Town’s Committee of Adjustment has denied a submission by Mancini Homes to sever a property at 20 Alan Crescent in Fonthill to add another home. At their meeting last Tuesday, committee members Don Cook (Chair), Bernie Law, and Bill Sheldon continued their deliberations from a meeting last month, in which they deferred a decision on the application until Town staff could reconsider their opinion in favour of the severance.

At that time, committee members expressed concern about the “character of the existing neighbourhood” in the face of objections from neighbourhood residents, who showed up in force to protest the proposal.

However, the Planning Department came to Tuesday’s meeting with the same recommendation, citing the infilling directives from the province and Region, and asserting that the application meets every criterion established by these directives. Representatives for the developer, Craig Rowe of Upper Canada Consultants, and lawyer Patrick Maloney, concurred, and expressed Mancini’s willingness to make minor adjustments to the application in order to comply with the Planning Department’s guidelines.

This “by the book” approach was criticized by several neighbourhood advocates, who asserted that the applicant needed various bylaw variances to build the proposed new home and asked that the bylaws be enforced as they exist.

Resident Jim Marando pleaded that the existing character of the neighbourhood be spared from development, summing up his presentation with a call to place “people before profit.”

Another neighbour, Ted Galotta, expressed concern about infrastructure, especially storm sewers, runoff, and excess water that might result from smaller lots sizes and infill development. In his reply, Derek Young, the Town’s Engineering Supervisor, acknowledged that Alan Crescent does not have curbs or gutters to contain runoff, and with climate change causing more storms and heavier rainfall, the street may have to be “urbanized” by adding such infrastructure. Increased housing density would make the situation even more pressing.

When it came time for committee members to express their views, Bill Sheldon took the Planning Department to task. He likened the application for severance to “building a house in a back yard,” while refuting point by point the staff recommendation for approval. He scoffed at the stipulation that the lot was “vacant and underutilized,” as is required by the infilling guidelines, and said the proposal was not “physically compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood,” another requirement for severance.

Sheldon’s position was echoed by member Bernie Law, who added that the presence of so many residents at both meetings, and a petition with 44 signers objecting to the application, suggested to him that the neighbourhood character was threatened by the proposed development. The vote to deny the application was unanimous.

The neighbour immediately to the south of the subject property, Foster Zanutto, questioned the next steps in the process. Assuming that the developer would appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (L-PAT), he asked if the committee’s decision would become the Town’s position and defended by the Town—and, if so, whether it be the Planning Department, which has gone on record as approving the severance, that would represent the Town. In her reply, Town Clerk Nancy Bozzato, seemed to suggest that the decision was solely that of the Committee of Adjustment, and that L-PAT would receive all relevant documents and correspondence, including the Planning Department’s recommendation, but the Town itself would take no position. The developer has 20 days to appeal the denial to L-PAT.

 

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