NORTH PERTH – Council supported a recommendation by Perth County Manager of Planning Sally McMullen to defer a decision on Official Plan Amendment 33 and Zoning Bylaw Amendment 02-2021. The amendments propose to include a mixed-use building as a possible redevelopment of the vacant lot on Main Street East beside KFC in Listowel which would allow a condominium with commercial and residential units.
“Such a development is a progressive example of intensification in the already built-up part of Listowel, a fully-serviced settlement area,” according to the report McMullen presented. “The development would be positioned and function as a transition between diverse land uses in the neighbourhood of the subject property and it would also provide for additional housing and commercial opportunities that are in demand in the settlement area. A housing development on the subject land would be in a walkable area close to schools, the services and amenities of the downtown and a food store.”
The report recommended council defer any decision for several reasons.
“I have offered specific details in the recommendation on what I think should be achieved by the developer for each of the amendments to proceed,” said McMullen. “The recommendation did take quite a bit of deliberation and I landed on deferral for two main reasons.”
She said the first reason is an opportunity to be clear that Planning wants to encourage intensification projects like what is conceptualized here.
“We could use more of this kind of application to make the most out of our land base and the infrastructure that we have available that the municipality has already invested in,” said McMullen. “Available land, as you know, isn’t plentiful right now… for new developments and something that I have been thinking a lot about lately is what conditions need to exist for that draw towards an intensification or redevelopment project to compete with the draw to undertake a development on completely new lands or greenfield development.”
The second reason she recommended deferral is that she has a preference for giving people on projects a chance.
“I like to set targets and explain to them so the applicants have an opportunity to rise to the occasion,” she said. “I believe that I’ve been trying to help this particular application along rather than just shut it down for some the deficiencies that I have described in my report.”
McMullen said the applicant had sent correspondence after she had provided her recommendation to council.
“I’m left thinking about the considerable resources that the department has put into the application with somewhat disappointing results over the amount of time that we’ve been looking into it,” she said. “A redevelopment project like this takes careful step-by-step planning. Step one is really simple. Are there environmental or safety reasons why this lot shouldn’t have housing on it? So once we have that record of site condition and the compatibility work completed then we’ll know some of those answers and the rest of the steps in the process fall into line after that.”
McMullen said the latest correspondence showed that the applicant disagreed with her on what a completed, thorough investigation of compatibility looks like.
“I’m recommending a course of action to you tonight that I believe will lead us to a well-planned and complementary development for this neighbourhood and the community beyond the neighbourhood,” she said. “So for now my recommendation stands as recommended in my report to you.”
Coun. Allan Rothwell said he didn’t see a reference anywhere in the report to specific recommendations made by North Perth council when Planner Sean Yilmaz brought this development before council in June for public consultation.
“I do know in the report there was comment in respect to members of the public that expressed some concerns,” he said. “I fully agree with the recommendation and your process that you followed with the applicant, but is there no desire on behalf of the applicant to speak directly to council as to why he is not willing to submit the required documentation.”
McMullen said she undertook a review from scratch to bring council a recommendation that she felt she could stand behind.
“I looked at the information that was provided through the public consultation from the neighbours and they speak to concerns around compatibility and I think that conversation and further discussion about those concerns that were raised by neighbours and neighbouring businesses needs to be had once we have a thorough compatibility report in front of us,” she said. “I’d like to know more about how the development would interact with neighbouring uses and be impacted by neighbouring uses. I think that from doing that study we would learn insights as to how the site could be further designed to mediate certain incompatibilities that may or may not exist.”
“But, I just feel like the first steps haven’t been revealed to us and we won’t be able to have a really good discussion about it until we have those pieces and I’ve asked for them in different ways and still not received a response. I’m sure the applicant would very much like to speak to you and they have given you more details by email on their response around compatibility. From my perspective, the response received to date is more about not having to do the study that I’m recommending rather than completing it,” said McMullen.
“Thank you, unfortunately,” said Rothwell.
The recommendation to defer a decision on Official Plan Amendment 33 required the developer to provide a record of site condition has been completed and registered by the province following its approval; an evaluation of compatibility of residential uses with the existing uses in the vicinity of the subject lands completed to the satisfaction of North Perth; and an evaluation of affordability regarding the proposed residential units and consideration of potential measures within the development that may contribute to the provision of affordable units in the community.
The recommendation to defer a decision on Zoning ByLaw Amendment 02-2021 requires the developer to provide North Perth with a rationale for the proposed parking for a mixed-use building; provisions for outdoor amenities and outdoor storage for items such as waste and bicycles; and any setbacks or other mitigation mechanisms resulting from the Land Use Compatibility assessment be included in the provisions for the zoning amendment.
All council members voted in favour of the recommendation to defer the decisions.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner