When does a community have a voice?
by Sandy Lindsay

August 9, 2016


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For anyone concerned about development within the urban settlement of Saugeen Shores, should plan on attending the upcoming Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting on Thursday, August 11th at the PLEX in Port Elgin.

There are two proposed developments being brought forward but one, in particular, for Port Elgin is about to open doors to re-zoning that has raised many concerns.

The development, that is a new mixed-use commercial/residential development ,is proposed to be built at the corner of Mary Street (across from Sunset Bowl) and Hwy. 21.  The subject lands are currently designated Highway Commercial, which permits a multitude of commercial uses, but limits residential uses to those accessory to the main commercial use. The application seeks to re-designate the subject lands to permit 31 dwelling units. The proposed sizes of the commercial units are larger than the typical commercial units available in the downtown core

Below are the exemptions being asked for and which see all distances and height changed.  Out of 12 existing standards, six are being asked to be changed and they are major changes:
Provision Required  Proposed
 Maximum Building Height 10.0 m 21.0 m
Maximum Lot Coverage  30 %  49 %
Minimum Front Yard Setback 10.0 m 3.0 m
Exterior Side Yard Setback 10.0 m 3.0 m
Minimum Setback from the Centre Line of a Provincial Highway 30.0 m 18.0 m
Landscaped Open Space in Front Yard 15%   3.2% 

 The only residential use permitted within the Highway Commercial area are those accessory dwelling units occupied by the owner or operator of the principle commercial use. As such, in order to facilitate the development of 31 residential dwelling units, an amendment to the Official Plan is required.

Among those opposed to the development is neighbour Norma Dunlop who has lived across the street for more than 50 years.  In a letter to Council and Planning development, she expresses concern over the height of the proposed building and that lack of green space and gardens that will be included.

A letter has also been submitted to PAC and, possibly Town Council, by Gerry Moss and Tim Benard who own lands adjacent to the proposed development.

"We believe that this application is asking for so many changes to the HC zone uses and provisions that it does not adhere to this concept of reasonableness, but rather, represents an example of taking one step down a slippery slope of unreasonableness that threatens the current and historical zoning amendment process and thus, the wise development planning within Saugeen Shores."

"If even 10% of the land owners in Saugeen Shores sought amendments to and were granted such monumental amendments to their zoning provisions, we would be in a situation of making a mockery of the zoning bylaw. None of us want this result," say Moss and Bernard. "Simply put, this proposed building does not fit on the subject property……it is simply too long, too wide and too tall for the property."

According to Moss and Bernard, "This request is for a change that frankly verges on making a mockery out of the whole zoning by-law and amendment process, and of the reasonableness that should guide us in development and land use decisions."

Planning Report Hill-Davidson  (allow time to load)

A major issue is that there is already a County Planning recommendation to approve in advance of any involvement of the community directly, PAC directly or Council directly.  Even if PAC turns down the application and then Council turns it down, the fact that the County has recommended approval means that the applicant appears to already have a big ally as the County Planners have recommended approval. 

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

In other words,approval has been given in advance of any public hearing on the issue. It will be a challenge, to have PAC and/or Council vote differently from a County planning recommendation. 

The other application is also important as it involves a development on lands on the north side of the Saugeen River.  These are lands that are home to wildlife, that is a wetland, an Environmental Hazard area and one that residents in the area value as environmental green space.

Here, too, developers want to usurp the area in order to build 7 single detached dwellings and 12 multi-family residential dwellings (minimum).

"Three (3) surrounding property owners submitted concerns that the proposed development would negatively impact the environment and wildlife in the area; and, that the proposed higher density / potentially taller built form of the multi-residential block would be out of character with the ‘natural cottage country’ atmosphere."

"I'm writing this email on behalf of myself, my husband and our family. Residing at 68 Madwayosh St., we strongly oppose this application !! Due to the environmental hazards that can occur while digging everything up, all the wild life and their homes will be destroyed. And lives lost! Myself and our next door neighbours have been feeding a family of about 10-12 deer for years now. That's not including all the other little families living in the bush. Not only the innocent wildlife families that will lose their homes and LIVES! Our street is a beautiful quiet pristine area. For this to start with all the noise, the dirt, destruction will make it like a living hell and far from what all of us residents are used to. This is not an area for huge development! Nobody that lives here wants to look out the their windows into someone else's window!  We love our view, and wildlife. Please don't kill that. "

The Goetz Family.

Comments from Planning Application:

'Should the lands be re-zoned to ‘R3’, the Town’s By-law would permit a maximum height of 12m (generally 3 storeys, depending on ceiling height), and would permit a variety of residential building types, including townhouse dwellings, multi-unit dwellings (i.e. three or more single, semi-, dulplex, or townhouse dwellings) and apartment dwellings. The minimum low-density target for Block A is 12 dwelling units, which can be achieved by a variety of low-rise building types.'

When does a community have a voice?  When they show up to let it be heard.

The PAC public meeting is Thursday, August 11th at the PLEX  at 5:00 p.m.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016