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by Doug Harvey
Port Stanley's First Local Planning Appeal Tribunal
Newest example of what could be built at 146-156 William Street in Port Stanley.

After waiting for over three years to start construction on a mid-rise development on William Street in Port Stanley, it would seem that Prespa Construction Limited will still have to wait for at least another two to three months before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will have any kind of decision on what can happen next.

This proceeding came before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal because of a claim by Prespa Construction Limited that the Municipality of Central Elgin failed to make a decision on a proposed development application within the 120 days allotted. The initial Zoning By-Law Amendment Application that was received on October 15, 2015 was for a 9 storey complex to be built by Prespa Construction Limited at 146-156 William in Port Stanley.

The public first became aware of this new development as a 9 storey complex at 146-156 William Street at a Central Elgin Council meeting on January 18, 2016. The application was for a zoning amendment to permit mixed use development to construct a nine storey mixed use development on the west side of William Street, north of Edith Cavell Boulevard. The development proposed 52 residential units within the 9 storeys with a ground floor commercial space and three detached dwellings fronting onto Edith Cavell Boulevard. That evening at Council it was decided to wait until the next meeting to schedule a date for a public meeting. At the next meeting of Council on Monday, January 25, 2016 the public meeting for the proposed Prespa development of a 9-storey apartment building on William Street was set to be held at the Port Stanley Arena on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

The turnout to the public meeting on Prespa's proposed 9-storey high-rise condominium apartment complex was strong and solid despite the freezing rain coming down on March 1st, 2016 and they made it clear that they were not in favour of the proposal.

Linda Easton, acting president of the Port Stanley Village Association (PSVA), gave an excellent, very professional, presentation in response to the Prespa presentation. According to the PSVA the main concerns were:

  • Traffic flow/congestion
  • Proposed development too high (elevation)
  • Additional infrastructure will be required
  • Not compatible to the area/Not in keeping with traditional character of the area
  • Lack of green space/open space
  • Lack of sufficient parking
  • Increased demands for Police, Fire and Emergency Services
  • Additional fire equipment needed
  • Population density too high

Robert Langlois made note of the legal right of ancient light - that if you have been getting natural light for 20 years or more, you have a right to get that light. Tying in with that was another resident's objection that the development goes against private residents in the area getting solar collector panels. Langlois noted the Prespa proposal was a private, for-profit enterprise, not a public enterprise.

The timing and methods of the traffic survey done for Prespa by Frank Berry was challenged as being done at the wrong time of day and on the wrong days of the week Berry said it was done on Wednesday August 18th and Thursday August 19th and covered a full 8 hours each day. They did not want to do it on a summer long weekend because they design for the bulk of year-round traffic.

"Why not do the traffic study on a weekend, on a long weekend?" Carol Parafenko wanted to know. "Is that not the worst case scenario? Does not the municipality plan for the worst case scenario?"

One man whose name I didn't catch thinks the Prespa development is a great opportunity for Port Stanley. "We need people to keep Port alive," he said, "to keep it going." He thought it was a positive direction for Port even if 9 stories was a little too high. "If we allow 9 stories we are done, we will have highrises all along the shore and this will be Toronto coming in."

Considerable concern was also expressed about access to Grimmonds Beach and potential road widening's by the municipality. The municipality does plan to widen First Street by 5 feet, all using Prespa land on the east side of First Street, and to add a sidewalk. A peer review of the traffic study already done by Berry was suggested and another resident suggested an entire Traffic Plan study be undertaken by the municipality, not just a peer review, "to determine what we have now and what we will need in the future." It was felt by most in the room that we don't really know what impacts on traffic this development will have on other parts of the municipality that are close by the proposed development area. Concerns about storm water run-off from hard surfaces were also raised.

Lloyd Perrin detailed what the municipality has already done to alleviate storm water run-off problems in the area and what they intend to do in future. He also said that designing for the worst case scenario, whether it be traffic, sewage or storm water run-off, is beyond the affordability of any municipality. "We design for the average." he said.

After the March 1st, 2016 public meeting the application seemed to be moving slowly with ongoing negotiations behind the scenes. In 2018, the public was made aware that the application was to go before the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal and that at that first meeting on October 10, 2018, a Procedural Order was issued by the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal that Prespa Construction Limited would host another Open House. The Open House would inform the public of a revised plan of the proposed development that would replace the previous proposal by Prespa Construction Limited to construct a 9-storey apartment building and three detached dwellings on the subject property with two new 5-storey apartment buildings to be located at 146-156 William Street in Port Stanley, adjacent to Why Not Park. Proposed Building 1 facing William Street will be a mixed-use building, containing 32 residential units and two ground level commercial units. Proposed Building 2 facing Edith Cavell Boulevard will contain 30 residential units. .

The Open House on January 15th, 2019 was attended by over a hundred registered people and anyone that went to that Proposed 5-Storey Apartment Buildings Open House that was scheduled for Tuesday, January, 15th, 2019 at 6:00 P.M. was in for a surprise when it came time for the 7:00 P.M. scheduled Formal Presentation. A Prespa representative got up to tell everyone that there would not be any formal presentation due to the fact that the proposed development is before the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal, but that any questions asked on a one on one basis regarding this new proposal would be answered. Many people left the meeting when the formal presentation was cancelled because people were patiently waiting seated in the provided chairs for the formal presentation, and more people that were coming in at 7:00 for that formal presentation were in disbelief that the formal presentation was cancelled.

Prespa Local Planning Appeal Tribunal - Day 1

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal began Monday, March, 11, 2019 at 10:30:AM at the Port Stanley Arena, 332 Carlow Rd, Port Stanley ON N5L 1B6 with Anne Milchberg acting LPAT member hearing matters on this case. Alan Patton was council for Prespa Construction Limited and Steven Gibson assisted by Ken McNair was council for the Municipality of Central Elgin. The Witness list for Central Elgin included Central Elgin employees CAO Donald Leitch, Manager of Planning Services Jim McCoomb, and Chief Building Official Leon Bach. Witnesses for Prespa Construction Limited were Traffic Consultant Frank Berry, Deren Lyle Professional Civil Engineer, and Harry Froussios lead planner for Zelinka Priamo Ltd. under contract to Prespa.

In an opening statement, Alan Patton indicated that the Municipality conceded that they failed to make a decision within the 120 day allotted time when the zoning changes were brought to them in 2016 and revealed that his client and planners for the Municipality of Central Elgin had already agreed on permitted use of the site, density of the buildings, and settled on the required parking spaces.

The issues still remaining included building set back from the adjacent road and why not park, as well as building design.

"The issue before the board is what is appropriate zoning," stated municipal lawyer Steve Gibson.

Frank Berry, a traffic consultant, was first to give testimony relating to the site traffic study he had conducted. In his study He used base data that included a single access from First Street, with First Street widened to include two-way traffic and a sidewalk, and parking for 97 vehicles. His results indicated that there would not be any adverse traffic impacts in the area.

Deren Lyle, a Civil Engineer, gave testimony relating to the reason why site access from First Street was used, sanitary sewer capacity, storm drain capacity, water main capacity, grading, and KCCA Flood Uprush effects in respect to the position of the site.

S. Rooda, a concerned Port Stanley citizen on the witness list gave testimony relating to the Storm Water Management on the property, the effects of flooding in the area and wanted reassurances that flooding would not increase because of development of the site.

Prespa Local Planning Appeal Tribunal - Day 2

At the beginning of the second day, Steven Gibson, council for the Municipality of Central Elgin indicated that through a land exchange in overnight negotiations a settlement was reached on the setback issue allowing for a full 3 metre setback from the lot line. These negotiations have addressed all related issues remaining between Central Elgin and Prespa Construction Limited.

Manager of Planning Services Jim McCoomb gave testimony relating to the history of the application, the Port Stanley By-law, Central Elgin's Official Plan, the ongoing Secondary Harbour Plan, the Elgin County Official Plan, the Provincial Policy Statement, the Geo-Technical Report, the Shadow Study, and how this application was brought into conformity on all fronts.

Dan Ross, current PSVA President gave testimony relating to how this development was not keeping with the character and height of the area, and was too big for the lot, lacked any kind of traditional style, culture, and was totally incompatible with the surrounding area.

Linda Easton, current PSVA President gave testimony relating to how this development was not keeping with the character and height of the area, and had too much mass for the lot, had issues with the lack of trees and green space.

Ted Halwa, a concerned Port Stanley citizen on the witness list gave testimony relating to building height, and how the old Port Stanley By-law should be updated to reflect current needs. When cross examined by Alan Patton, information was brought out indicating that Mr. Halwa had been previously employed by Prespa Construction Limited to propose an 8-story complex at the same location.

Mr. and Mrs. Gingell, concerned Port Stanley citizens on the witness list gave testimony relating undo mental strain put on local residents because of Central Elgin's indecision on this proposal, concerns with privacy due to the entrance to site being right next to their property, building height, local area safety, and how traffic access might be better from William Street.

Carol Parafenko, a concerned Port Stanley citizen on the witness list gave testimony relating to pedestrian and traffic safety in and around the First Street - Erie Street area, had issues with height, building footprint, lack of green space for trees, a solid fence for privacy, and had concerns that the proposed site may affect Port Stanley's Blue Flag Beach.

Prespa Local Planning Appeal Tribunal - Day 3

At the beginning of todays hearing, a decision was made concerning Janet Kennedy who was not available at the meeting, that she would not be allowed to be heard via electronic means but that her written statement would be allowed if provided.

Candy Hayward, a concerned Port Stanley citizen on the witness list, gave testimony relating to an alternate proposal that she created of what could be built on the site that would be a better fit for the neighbourhood. She also had issues with the massive scale and density of the project, needed more parking spaces, and had concerns on access to the site. Her testimony also included descriptions of the amenities, services, events, and available parking options in the area. She also said that the site was poorly designed, was too high and too dense for the area, cast shadows on adjacent properties, lacked green space, and would just have a negative impact on the surrounding neighbourhood.

Della Wilson, a concerned Port Stanley citizen on the witness list, gave testimony relating to pedestrian safety, privacy, shadowing on her property, parking, and how this project would negatively impact the look of the neighbourhood. She also had concerns with the final building height and how the angle of the roof almost equals 2-stories on it's own, and did not trust what heights are proposed would be built according to the plan.

Lloyd Perrin, Director of Physical Services for the Municipality of Central Elgin gave testimony relating to his review of all the plans for this proposal. How a second traffic study was conducted by Dillion in worst case scenario conditions during a 2018 July long weekend with extremely high Port Stanley traffic volumes and that the site access route from First Street was picked because it would have the least impact on traffic flow in the area during these peak periods. He talked about the 2 year Storm Water design used in the area, the impact that lake levels have on the pipe outlet in the harbour, the 11 1/2 foot drop on the entrance of First Street from Erie Street and how traffic movement and pedestrian safety would be improved on First Street by widening the road and adding a sidewalk. He also talked about what was involved in getting a Blue Flag beach and the criteria that must be met to have that Blue Flag standard. He said that the vicinity involved in the standard was from the beach to the south side of Edith Cavell Blvd. With the additional land transfer beside Why Not Park, the park may have to be revitalized. The number of parking space on the property meets Central Elgin requirements.

Manager of Planning Services Jim McCoomb gave testimony again relating to the definition of character in the Official Plan, said that there is no specific definition, but that there is reference to character in several locations within the Official Plans. He also said that zoning can not guarantee privacy issues, but that fences can help. As for the proposal everything complies with Central Elgin's Official Plan, Elgin County Official Plan, is compatible, and can co-exist with the area.

In their brief final statements, both planners agree that this proposal follows the Provincial Policy Statement, conforms to both Central Elgin and Elgin County Official Plans, evidence supports no issues, Emergency Services have no access issues, a compromise was achieved with the set back to 3 metres from the lot line. Jim McCoomb has revised the By-law to reflect the current changes that will regulate actual building.

Steven Gibson council for the Municipality of Central Elgin asked that confirmation of transfer of the First Street property be provided at Prespa Construction Limited expense, confirmation that the West Emergency Route access has been secured to the satisfaction of Central Elgin, and that the lot adjustment and transfer for Why Not Park have been completed at Prespa Construction Limited expense.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Anne Milchberg acting LPAT member thanked all participants that participated in this Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and said that a decision could take possibly two to three months to complete.


Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 March 2019 21:47:44 PM EST

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