An angry group of Poyntz Street residents took to council to voice their concerns that a proposed apartment development would threaten their livelihood and community safety.
Greg Barker, planner with Innovative Planning Solutions (IPS), addressed council with a request for a zoning bylaw amendment regarding the two vacant lots at 95 & 97 Poyntz Street, where a proposed two-storey apartment building of five units has been put forward by the developer.
On behalf of the applicant Mario Lampert Holding Ltd., IPS proposed that the two lots be rezoned from residential first density special (R1S) as having a common or shared entrance, to residential multiple density (RM), which would offer individual and/or independent entrances.
“The site is situated within an existing residential area which contains primarily single and semi-detached dwellings, along with some newer medium density uses as well,” said Barker in providing context for the lots located northeast of Centre Street.
“There are two units proposed on the ground floor with access from Poyntz Street, and two lower level walkout units are proposed with access from the Shanahan Road side. The fifth unit is proposed on a second storey, which would also be accessed from Poyntz Street,” explained Barker.
In addition to the two-bedroom apartment units, two parking spaces per unit have been proposed for a total of 10 spaces, five of which would front onto Poyntz Street and five onto Shanahan Road.
However, neighbours living along Poyntz Street held great objection to the proposed amendment.
Prior to the public meeting, a group of 28 homeowners and residents in the immediate vicinity submitted their written opposition to the town. Of that group, many showed up in the virtual session of regular council to have their voices heard first-hand.
Traffic concerns were the most significant complaint raised by the group.
“All of us, who live on Poyntz, already know that ‘no one climbs this hill in the snow and ice of winter,'” stated the written objection in regards to the change of elevation on the sloped hill. “We don’t actively park on Shanahan, even those who have parking spots there. Even the garbage truck will not climb this hill."
Added group spokesman John Maynard: "We believe that the traffic dangers inherent in the pedestrian and car access components of this proposal -- I’m sorry, these are tough words -- are nothing short of dangerous and naive."
Resident Julie Stocks spoke to the steep incline of Poyntz Street, as well as the visitor parking not intended for the subject property.
“Those visitors are going to park along the boulevard, hence obstructing line sights for pulling in and out of this driveway,” said Stocks, who also described Shanahan Road as “a narrow laneway which I walk personally with my dog, and I have to move to the side of the road for a car to even get past me.”
According to Stocks, the group wants council to direct staff to commission an independent safety impact study, which along with a second public meeting would allow council to make an informed decision on the application.
Todd Stocks, who said he's a former planner, noted that the rezoning proposal wasn’t in keeping with the zoning principle.
Also, intensification by the town was at a rate of 48% of new growth, well above the 40% within the town’s Official Plan. Lastly, seven properties zoned RM are currently owned by the town with two of those vacant, and that the surplus of available land would also be suitable for apartment development, the group noted.
Maynard stated that the group would accept the building of two separate houses which met the requirements of R1S zoning, as with many of the neighbourhood homes which the group had acquired, but shared that the group felt differently toward the applicant.
“The new owners of 95 & 97 Poyntz knew these rules when they recently purchased the property,” said Maynard. “We don’t believe it’s in the town’s interest to disrupt a stable community to accommodate someone who doesn’t and won’t likely even be living there, and is likely making an investment all for the sake of one additional unit.”
Resident Monique Kingma spoke to the negative impact on property values the zoning amendment would have in the town, and to the long-standing residential single-family owned community which currently composes the neighbourhood.
“As one of the now-childhood homeowners in this neighbourhood, I worry about what a multi-family dwelling will have on the value of my home,” admitted Kingma, who shared that her family had kept property standards to their utmost over the years. “It hurts me to think this could all be in vain.”
According to another resident not in attendance, but quoted through Kingma, “this particular change will come with consequences.”
Added Maynard, “Monique was asked to present this, in part because she’s so polite, but also because she’s the only one who promised she could do this without getting really angry. You need to know there is a pent-up anger in this group on Poyntz today.”
Council sat through the half-hour public meeting before getting their say, and they went straight to Barker for answers.
Barker responded that he had heard and read the group’s concerns, and wished to report back to town staff at a later time to address the issues.
“There’s an acknowledgement that four units could be developed here,” noted Barker, “so we’re really boiling this down to a fifth unit that seems to be the sticking point; there seem to be a lot of cumulative concerns that I don’t think is necessarily attributed to the addition of one unit.”
Coun. Dan LaRose asked Barker about snow removal and dedicated visitor parking concerns.
Barker replied that while snow removal was a site plan issue while dedicated visitor parking wasn’t shown in the concept, but could be considered moving forward.
Barker’s response was met with the disapproving shaking of heads from residents on the broadcast.
At the committee of the whole meeting later in the night, Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau admitted she was a resident of the area as well, and made additional note of the steep elevation.
“It really behooves me to try to understand a building of that nature on that property,” said Dubeau, encouraging the developer to build two separate units on the property.
The matter was forwarded to the town planning department to address the concerns and comments, and return with a report at a future date.
The 95 & 97 Poyntz Street amendment proposal, along with the the written objections of residents, is available within the council agenda on the town of Penetanguishene website.
Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca