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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  News Decision on Wastell Developments Inc. Application Deferred

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by Doug Harvey
Decision on Wastell Developments Inc Application Deferred

Central Elgin Planning Office

CEP 59-18 - Application for a Zoning By-law Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision 34T-CE1801 - 2526485 Ontario Inc. (Wastell Developments Inc.)

Background: - The applicant (2526485 Ontario Inc. - Wastell Developments Inc.) filed an application with the Municipality back in March of this year for a zoning by-law amendment to support a proposed residential development on lands north of George Street and south of the Kettle Creek Golf Course. The proposed development encompasses 23.6 hectares (58.32 acres) of land and provides for the development of 150 lots for single-detached dwellings and 4 blocks (Blocks 151, 152, 153 and 154) for apartment dwellings (360 units). Five new streets (Streets "A" through "F") are proposed, as well as blocks for public parkland (Blocks 155, 156), storm water management (Block 157), future low-density residential (Block 158), and natural heritage (Block 159). The applicant has submitted a concurrent application for draft plan of subdivision approval to the County of Elgin (File No. 34T-CE1801).

An open house and public meeting were held on June 18th, 2018 at the Port Stanley arena hall. Council received seven written submissions regarding the proposed development and heard from approximately 27 of the estimated 300 in attendance. Comments received were largely in opposition to the proposed development, or with respect to process. While many questions were responded to at the meeting, there were a couple of common themes to the comments that staff would like to provide comment for Council's consideration. These include character of the community and traffic impacts.

i) Impacts to the Character of the Community

Many of the people who commented, whether at the meeting or in writing, expressed their concern that the proposed development would change the character of the community. Many describe the Community of Port Stanley as a "sleepy little fishing village" and a quaint, charming community. They are concerned that the density of the proposed development and the influx of a significant increase in the population will change that character.

The character of a community is a very subjective matter, and can change even spatially across the community. Port Stanley is a community that has seen many changes throughout the years, but the one constant has been the waterfront. It is the harbour and the beach that have truly defined Port Stanley throughout the years, and they are what continue to attract people to the community to live and to play. The proposed development will not have any negative impacts upon the character of these areas.

It has been argued that the density of the proposed development is what is not in keeping with the character of the community. It is true that most development in Port Stanley is largely low density, with some medium density in the form of the existing condominium enclaves. However, the Municipality's Official Plan designates the subject lands for Residential development and the Residential Density policies found in Subsection 4.2.2 of the Plan state that within Urban Settlement Areas where full municipal services are provided a full range of low to medium density residential uses shall be permitted, subject to the policies of the Plan. Those policies include that new medium or high density residential development shall be subject to the following:

  • 1. The proposed design of the residential development is compatible in scale with the character of surrounding uses; (The high density component of the proposed development is located at the northerly side of the subject lands, physically separated from existing development by the low density component and the vegetated ridge. The low density component is compatible in scale with the existing development on George Street)
  • 2. The site is physically suited to accommodate the proposed development; (The supporting documentation submitted by the applicant demonstrates that the site is physically suited to accommodate the proposed development)
  • 3. The proposed site can be serviced with adequate water supply and sanitary sewage disposal in accordance with the policies contained in Section 2.8 of this Plan; (The Director of Physical Services has confirmed that there is sufficient uncommitted capacity in the sanitary sewage treatment plant and the piped water system to service the proposed development)
  • 4. The property shall have direct access to an arterial or collector road maintained to a municipal standard with capacity to accommodate traffic generated from the site;(George Street is designated as a collector in accordance with Schedule "G1" -Community of Port Stanley Roads Classification and Widening Plan to the Official Plan. The distance from the high density blocks to George Street is approximately 250 metres).
  • 5. Sufficient off-street parking facilities is provided in accordance with the standards set out in the Zoning By-law; (the applicant can meet the parking standard established in the zoning by-law) and
  • 6. Consideration shall be given to matters related to land use compatibility, traffic impacts and proximity effects such as noise and visual impacts. (The proposed residential use is compatible with surrounding uses. Traffic impacts have been assessed by the developer's traffic consultant and through the Municipality's traffic review (see comments below)).

Another policy area of the Official Plan that deals with character is found in Subsection 2.10.3.1 (b). This subsection contains the Community Design Policies. Applicable policies include that the Municipality:

  • 1. Will ensure that new development is designed in keeping with the traditional character of the Settlement Areas in a manner that both preserves their traditional community image and enhances their sense of place within Central Elgin; (The proposed development seeks to maintain the continuity of the George Street streetscape with the lots fronting onto the street and not reverse frontages as is seen in many suburban subdivisions. The development is not located in proximity to those areas/features of Port Stanley that help to define its character. The higher density component is separated from the existing community and buffered from it by the low density component. The settlement area's sense of place in Central Elgin is enhanced through offering a dwelling type currently not available, thus providing opportunities for new residents to locate there and existing residents to stay, creating community and opportunities in particular for the aging component of the population).
  • 2. Will promote efficient and cost-effective development design patterns that minimize land consumption; (The proposed high density component achieves this policy).
  • 3. Will promote the improvement of the physical character, appearance and safety of streetscapes, civic spaces, and parks; (The safety of the George Street streetscape will be enhanced through the addition of sidewalks as part of the development, and a park will be added for the west side of the community).
  • 4. Will encourage tree retention/replacement and open space enhancements; (The proposed development seeks to preserve much of the existing vegetated slope areas and the existing watercourse; boulevard plantings will be a part of the new streetscape design as required by the Municipality) and
  • 5. Will encourage design that considers, and wherever possible continues, existing and traditional street patterns and neighbourhood structure; (The proposed streetscape along George Street maintains the existing pattern of development along George Street by having the housing facing the street and avoiding reverse frontages. The balance of the street pattern in the subdivision is consistent with that of other peripheral developments in Port Stanley).

ii) Traffic Impacts:

Traffic impact is the second category of concerns that were raised through the public consultation process. Traffic is seen as an existing issue for the west end of the community and one that would only be worsened through the traffic volumes anticipated from an additional 500 dwelling units in the proposed development.

As noted above, the Residential Density policies of the Official Plan require that consideration be given to matters related to, among other things, traffic impacts. It was identified early in the consultation process that the developer would be required to provide a traffic impact analysis to support the proposed development. That analysis (Paradigm Transportation Solutions Limited, Project No. 170209, September 2017) concluded that the development be approved with no conditions related to off-site Improvements, and that the Municipality review the intersection operation at George Street and William Street and consider converting the intersection to two-way stop controlled, with right-of-way assigned to George Street.

In response to comments received from the public, and consideration by staff of the broader traffic issues in the west end that may result from cumulative development, the Municipality retained Dillon Consulting to conduct an operational assessment of the intersections on George Street and Bridge Street from William Street through to Main Street. That report is complete and a report will be forthcoming from the Director of Physical Services as to the results along with a presentation from Dillon Consulting at the September 10th Council meeting.

There were many suggestions from the public that a secondary access to Carlow Road would be of benefit to address the potential traffic issues. The developer has agreed that a secondary access would be a benefit, however they do not own the intervening lands. However, they have agreed to a modification to the draft plan to replace certain lots on the east side of the plan with a block intended to facilitate a future secondary access should those land become available. This change is shown on Figure 1 of the attached correspondence from the developer's planning consultant.

Another traffic concern that was raised was the speed of traffic along George Street. Although this may be an existing concern and not one generated by the proposed development, the developer has proposed a traffic circle at the principle entrance to the subdivision which should assist in slowing traffic movements through this area of George Street. This is also illustrated in Figure 1 of the attached correspondence. It is also felt that the new streetscape, which will convert from rural profile to an urban street with multiple driveways, will encourage people to slow down as they will no longer have a sense of driving along a country road but rather a street in an urban environment.

Staff Comment:

Another comment that staff have heard as a result of this development proposal and others In the community is why the Municipality doesn't have a plan for all of this. There is a plan, it is the Municipality's Official Plan. That Plan designated these lands for residential development when it was approved in 2013. The Village of Port Stanley Official Plan also had these lands designated as Residential and there were draft approved plans already in place for the land. This developer is implementing development in accordance with the principle of use established for these lands for the past 30 years. In that regard they are obligated to ensure that their proposed development is consistent with the policies of the Official Plan, the Provincial Policy Statement and the County of Elgin Official Plan.

Central Elgin Council's responsibility in this process is with respect to the proposed zoning by-law amendment as the County is the approval authority for the plan of subdivision. In that regard the deadline as required by the Planning Act has expired and the developer is seeking a decision. The by-law does not necessarily have a direct correlation to the traffic matters that have been raised. That is a technical matter that has been addressed through the studies by the developer and the Municipality, and the developer is making changes to the plan of subdivision to accommodate potential alternative access and slow traffic movements along George Street.

1) Central Elgin Official Plan:

The by-law will facilitate the higher density component of the proposed development, which some have argued will change the character of Port Stanley. As noted above, the developer has, in my opinion, made efforts to plan this development so that it integrates well with the surrounding community and does not impact the character. It is also my opinion that the community character is one aspect of the Official Plan policies that applies, but there are others that also apply and the Plan's policies must be looked at in their entirety.

These policies include the Growth Projections & Targets in Section 2.2 of the Plan, which establish targets for housing types (including apartments) and intensification within the Municipality. Those targets seek a minimum of 8% of the anticipated required housing during the projected period be apartments. The residential intensification target of 10% is also directed towards the fully serviced urban settlement areas.

The Housing policies in Section 2.3 it is recognized that "In the future, it is projected that a greater mix of units will be required to accommodate the changing demographic In Central Elgin which is expected to see more empty nesters, seniors and first-time homebuyers as well as younger adults who cannot afford to purchase a home." The Housing Goals include:

  • To encourage a sustainable mix and range of housing to meet the needs of present and future residents, including those with special needs.
  • To encourage residential intensification within the Built-up Areas of the Urban Settlement Areas to allow for the efficient provision and utilization of existing infrastructure to minimize the cost of providing services while meeting an important component of Central Elgin's housing needs.
  • To encourage the provision of a full range of housing types and densities to meet the projected demographic and market requirements of current and future residents of Central Elgin.

The residential policies contained in Section 4.2.2(a) state that a full range of low to high density residential uses shall be permitted in the Residential designation. High density includes apartments in excess of 35 units per net hectare (14 units per net acre).

(2) Provincial Policy Statement (PPS):

The 2014 PPS contains policies that support the proposed development, and in particular the inclusion of the higher density component. These policies include:

  • 1.1.1 Healthy, liveable and safe communities are sustained by:
    • (b) accommodating an appropriate range and mix of residential (including second units, affordable housing and housing for older persons);
    • (e) promoting cost-effective development patterns and standards to minimize land consumption and servicing costs;
  • 1.1.3.2 Land use patterns within settlement areas shall be based on:
    • a) densities and a mix of land uses which:
      • 1. efficiently use land and resources;
      • 2. are appropriate for, and efficiently use, the infrastructure and public service facilities which are planned or available, and avoid the need for their unjustified and/or uneconomical expansion;
  • 1.1.3.6 New development taking place in designated growth areas should occur adjacent to the existing built-up area and shall have a compact form, mix of uses and densities that allow for the efficient use of land, infrastructure and public service facilities.
  • 1.4.3 Planning authorities shall provide for an appropriate range and mix of housing types and densities to meet projected requirements of current and future residents of the regional market area by:
    • d) promoting densities for new housing which efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities, and support the use of active transportation and transit in areas where it exists or is to be developed;

(3) County of Elgin Official Plan:

The County of Elgin Official Plan contains policies that support the proposed development. These policies include:
  • Section B2.6 (New Development In Existing Settlement Areas) states that in cases where new development is proposed outside of a built up area, but within a settlement area boundary, It shall be demonstrated that, among other things,
    • a) the new development area will generally serve as a logical extension to the existing built up area, is compact and minimizes the consumption of land;
    • c) a range of housing choices will be provided;
    • d) all of the other infrastructure required to service the new development is available, and such infrastructure will be used as efficiently as possible; and,
  • Section C1.1.1 (Residential Areas) states that it Is the objective of this Plan to, among other things:
    • a) maintain and enhance the character and identity of existing residential areas;
    • b) encourage the provision of a range of housing types to accommodate persons with diverse social and economic backgrounds, needs and desires while promoting the maintenance and improvement of existing housing;
    • c) promote the efficient use of existing and planned infrastructure by supporting opportunities for various forms of residential intensification, where appropriate;
    • d) encourage increases in density in new development areas to maximize the use of infrastructure and minimize the amount of land required for new development;
    • f) require a high standard of urban design for development and redevelopment.
  • Section C1.3 (Housing Policies) states that it is the goal of the Plan to meet the County's current and future housing needs by, among other things, encouraging the development and redevelopment of lands within settlement areas and in appropriate locations at higher densities to maximize the use of infrastructure.

(4) Proposed Zoning Amendment:

Staff have made a minor change to the proposed amendment to include holding provisions that will require certain conditions be met before development can take place. Those conditions include:

  • a subdivision agreement is entered into with the Municipality for the lands;
  • the Director of Physical Services certifies that there is adequate uncommitted reserve sewage capacity for the orderly development of the lands;

The subdivision agreement can include further details on many of the technical, legal and financial matters that have been identified as a result of the circulation and review of this application. These may include, but not be limited to, matters such as construction access, the secondary access, provision of sidewalks and services, parkland dedication, and more. Staff recommend that Council consider this change to the amendment as minor and resolve that no further notice be given in accordance with Subsection 34(17) of the Planning Act.

It is my opinion that the proposed zoning by-law amendment is supportable as it is consistent with the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement, the County of Elgin Official Plan and the Municipality of Central Elgin Official Plan.

(5) Draft Plan of Subdivision:

Comments received from the public at the public meeting have resulted in changes suggested by the developer to the proposed draft plan as outlined above (block to accommodate alternative access, traffic circle). In staffs opinion, the proposed development is consistent with the policies of the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement, the County of Elgin Official Plan, the Municipality of Central Elgin Official Plan, is appropriate and desirable for the subject lands, and represent good planning.

Attached for Council's consideration are draft conditions for draft plan approval. It is recommended that Council support these conditions, and that they be provided to the County as the approval authority in this matter, with a request that they be included with the draft plan conditions for the proposed development should it be approved.

Central Elgin Council Discussions

Council discussions began with Mayor David Marr asking Planner Jim McCoomb to bring Council up to date on this application. Mr. McCoomb commented that staff have made a minor change to the proposed amendment to include holding provisions that will require certain conditions be met before development can take place. Those conditions include a subdivision agreement be entered into with the Municipality for the lands, and that the Director of Physical Services certifies that there is adequate uncommitted reserve sewage capacity for the orderly development of the lands.

Planner Jim McCoomb also commented that because there were many concerns from the public that a secondary access to Carlow Road would be of benefit to address the potential traffic issues. The developer has agreed that a secondary access would be a benefit, however they do not own the intervening lands. However, they have agreed to a modification to the draft plan to replace certain lots on the east side of the plan with a block intended to facilitate a future secondary access should those land become available.

Another traffic concern that was raised was the speed of traffic along George Street. Although this may be an existing concern and not one generated by the proposed development, the developer has proposed a traffic circle at the principle entrance to the subdivision which should assist in slowing traffic movements through this area of George Street. It is also felt that the new streetscape, which will convert from rural profile to an urban street with multiple driveways, will encourage people to slow down as they will no longer have a sense of driving along a country road but rather a street in an urban environment.

Deputy Mayor Martyn began commenting that she was very pleased with some of the changes but that she felt that a secondary access was still a necessity for the project to proceed even if that meant that Central Elgin has to acquire the land. Deputy Mayor Martyn also commented that she had concerns with 6-story apartments and would prefer 4-story. She also offered a suggestion that Pickle ball courts or a baseball diamond be put into the parkland areas to transform the subdivision into a neighbourhood for all of Port Stanley to use.

STATEMENT FROM COUNCILLOR DAN McNEIL REGARDING WASTELL'S "SEA GLASS" DEVELOPMENT

The area North of George street (also called the 'Kettle Creek Valley') currently proposed for development was identified as residential in Port Stanley's Official Plan (OP) of 1989. It was further identified in a Plan of Subdivision, which remained extant for almost thirty years. Unfortunately, for most of those 30 years Port Stanley's future was in doubt. The 1989 OP had this most important statement:

Council shall make every effort to convince Transport Canada to retain Port Stanley as a designated Federal Harbour and to provide seaway depth.

Port Stanley's harbour, and its future viability, has been preserved by the courageous action of previous Councils. There is a new demand for progress in the Village.

We are very fortunate that a good developer with a solid reputation has made the decision to invest in Central Elgin. Wastell has been London's "Builder of the Year" for two years in a row.

The biggest concern is traffic. There is only the single access into that part of the village with a very odd intersection, which also feeds our Blue Flag Beach. This situation is untenable. I only support this application because I know Wastell and the Municipality intend to remedy the situation. ULTRAMAR is now owned by VALERO (Texas, USA). Council members have attended meetings with the regional manager of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Wastell and Valero. The Environmental Assessment of the property is underway and there is good faith to be seen on all fronts.

This opportunity should provide a new access to a serious "dead end - access" issue for all the residents of the area. It will also move us towards resolution of some contaminated land issues that Council needs to address.

Councillor Harold Winkworth commented that he also had issues with the 6-story building heights, the access to the project, and traffic concerns in the George Street area even after the presentation of the Port Stanley Traffic Study. He also commented that he would feel more comfortable supporting this project if a secondary access route was in place.

Councillor Stephen Carr commented that he also had issues concerning the need for a secondary access route into the new subdivision, and was very pleased that a well respected builder was involved in this project.

Councillor Dennis Crevits commented that he supported the development but that he also had issues concerning the need for a secondary access route into the new subdivision, and was very pleased that this well respected builder had made changes to the plans to incorporate that secondary access route if it becomes available, and to a traffic circle to reduce speeding in the area.

Councillor Fiona Roberts commented that she also supported the development because of the layout, how it will look, the provisions made for a secondary access route as well as an addition of a traffic circle to reduce speeding in the area.

Duputy Mayor Martyn commented that she was not aware of the ongoing discussions concerning the purchase of the Ultramar property for a secondary access route, and wanted guarantees that the purchase was going to take place before she would support this development.

Councillor Dan McNeil commented that the current Environmental Subcommittee has been dealing with all the pollution and environmental issues in the Port Stanley area for some time and that ongoing discussions with all those property owners is no secret.

Mayor David Marr commented that in order to fully understand what our options are, we should have Mr. Leitch explain the rules that a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will follow concerning our decision.

Mr. Leitch commented that Council is only deciding on the Zoning By-law. Under the LPAT rules if Council does not make a decision and the applicant makes an appeal, that would be considered a refusal. Going forward the LPAT will proceed with affidavits from expert witnesses, LPAT will only consider all evidence that is before Council at the time of the application. If Council decides to refuse the application then Council must provide the valid reasons for that decision, and if the planning report suggests that this application be rejected by Council then support for that decision is valid, but if the planning report suggests that this application be supported and Council rejects the application then the reasons for that decision must be supported by expert evidence.

Mayor David Marr commented that if we refuse this based on traffic, we have to understand that the applicant provided a traffic study from an expert that suggests that there have no traffic issues in the area, and tonight we just had the Port Stanley Traffic Study presentation that suggests that there is no traffic issues in the area. We would now have to find an expert to support our traffic issue claim at the LPAT appeal, so that's the kind of situation we are in.

Deputy Mayor Martyn commented that she was still having issues with secondary access and traffic, and wondered if there was a way to postpone this decision until more information to be gathered on a secondary access route through the Ultramar site.

Mayor David Marr commented that there was interest in the property but that no formal negotiations concerning the purchase of the property were in place, and that the property was still in an ongoing environmental reassessment.

Mr. Leitch commented that Council could ask for a deferral to consider a staff report on the Valero property, but as Council's well aware of the time it takes to complete environmental issues, risk management plans, and that Valero while doing that work now would be in the early stages of the process. Time would also be needed to verify that no environmental liabilities would be attached to the property such as costly remediation, or risk management measures. During the time it would take to complete the report the applicant could go before LPAT claiming a refusal due to a lack of a decision or refusal.

Councillor Harold Winkworth commented that he still had issues that should be resolved such as a secondary access route and the 6-story building heights before this goes ahead.

Roundtable discussions continued for some time seeking a way to accomplish getting a secondary access route and reducing the 6-story building heights. Mayor David Marr made a plea to Wastell Developments, as they were at Council that evening, to rather than go before LPAT that would take a long time and cost a significant amount of money for legal fees, could it be possible for Wastell and Council to sit down in an informal matter to try to resolve these issues. A Wastell spokesperson confirmed that they would be willing and have always been willing to discuss any issues with their application. A plan was then made to provide times and dates before the next meeting of Council, of when these meetings could be held so that further negotiations could continue. Mayor David Marr thank Wastell for being so reasonable in this matter.

A Motion moved by Deputy Mayor Martyn and seconded by Fiona Roberts that the Council of The Corporation of the Municipality of Central Elgin defer the decision for By-law 2296 ZBA - 2526485 Ontario Inc. Wastell Developments Inc., George Street to the next meeting of Council on September 24th, 2018. The Motion was Carried.


Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2018 10:01:35 AM EST

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