NORTH PERTH – Council, residents and a local business raised concerns about a proposed mixed-use development on the south side of Main Street East in Listowel beside KFC. Following staff direction, council deferred making any decision at the public meeting held on June 14.
The proposed three-storey mixed-use building would contain 20 residential units and four commercial units. The Highway Commercial-zoning designation does not currently permit residential uses.
Argiloff Engineering and Development Inc. intends to apply for a Plan of Condominium to create conveyable commercial and residential units.
The property was previously a car dealership and tire shop; a record of site condition is required and was prepared and submitted to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks but is still under review.
An Official Plan amendment will redesignate the property to Central Commercial, allowing new residential uses in the upper stories.
This designation has historically been implemented in the downtown core area of Listowel and Atwood. A large portion of Main Street in Listowel currently contains lands in this designation, and staff feel that the policies of the Central Commercial designation are appropriate based on the character of the neighbourhood, and are appropriate for the proposed mixed-use development.
The proposed development includes 30 parking spaces and 10 additional spaces. These spaces would be available for both visitor use and the users of the non-residential aspects.
In the staff report, it states development of this size would normally require 43 spaces.
Main Street includes a centre turning lane, which will provide traffic generated from this site with a lane to make a left turn. Municipal staff felt that the slight impact to the existing traffic as a result of this development would not require any additional road improvements.
Staff is also of the opinion that the final approval of the building design should be made by this council.
“At this time I do think it is important to note that staff cannot currently support the application and is recommending that council defer a decision,” said Sean Yilmaz, planner.
Even though there were outstanding issues that need to be addressed, staff thought it was prudent to present the application to council and the public so they can address any new concerns raised at the public meeting while dealing with outstanding policy and technical matters.
“This designation has historically been implemented in the downtown core area of Listowel and Atwood,” said Yilmaz. “A large portion of Main Street in Listowel currently contains lands with this designation and staff feel that the policies of the central commercial designation are appropriate based on the character of the neighbourhood.”
The proposed ground floor commercial uses will shift away from the highway commercial type uses to be more consistent with the downtown uses and that are typically pedestrian-oriented.
“I would also like to suggest council may want to include a requirement for another public meeting,” said Yilmaz. “I did not include this in my recommendation but do feel it may be appropriate.”
Clerk Pat Berfelz said the municipality received two letters from the public on the day of the public meeting.
The first was a from neighbours on Elm Avenue North who raised concerns about parking for residents who may have more than one vehicle, water and sewage capacity in the neighbourhood, the pedestrian focus for businesses a 10-minute walk from the downtown core, safe setbacks from Main Street to allow high school students to ‘loiter or fool around’ in front of the stores, and the impression the building will give travellers entering the community.
The other correspondence came from Lafarge Canada Inc., a concrete ready-mix plant, on Tremaine Avenue to the southeast of the proposed mixed-use building.
The concern raised by Lafarge is that the new development would introduce a new sensitive use near an established industrial use.
“We recognize and appreciate that there are existing residential uses in the general area and that the proposed redevelopment site is not immediately adjacent to our property,” wrote Luke McLeod, professional engineer land manager on behalf of Lafarge Canada Inc.
“However, we believe it is the municipality’s best interest to consider how land use compatibility is being addressed by this proposal to ensure that potentially adverse effects of the proposed use are minimized and mitigated.”
Evan Argiloff, the applicant, took the opportunity to speak to the objections on a technical basis.
“These are not like the houses – I’m the developer of the residential subdivision called Hannah’s Haven… on the south end of Listowel,” he said. “This is different. These are residential condominiums or apartment units so typically people are not going to have more than one car. I was assuming it was going to be more retired people, younger people, professionals… these are smaller stores on the bottom which are similar to the stores you would see on Main Street downtown.”
He addressed concerns of people backing out onto Main Street.
“I don’t know where that came from,” said Argiloff. “If you look at the site plan it is specifically designed to have 20-foot parking spaces which are sufficient to fit a large SUV or a pickup truck, so they are oversized parking spots and then there is about 30 feet drive aisle between the parking spots. Typically you need about 20 feet to back out with a pickup truck… so basically it has been designed so that a fire truck or a garbage truck can come into the development, do a three-point turn and go back out onto Main Street.”
He also addressed the sanitary, sewer and water main concerns raised by neighbours.
“As an engineer, we can’t just say we want to hook up on the water main without checking capacity,” said Argiloff. “This has already been predetermined.”
He compared the concerns raised by Lafarge to concerns raised by Campbell’s Soup before his subdivision in the south end began construction.
“To make a long story short, we had the same issues that LaFarge is bringing up… when I was beginning the subdivision which is now a completed subdivision with no issues with industry whatsoever,” said Argiloff.
To avoid the same issues he encountered with Campbell’s Soup, he said he has already raised the issue with the Ministry of Environment that Lafarge is within the distance required between sensitive land uses and industrial land uses.
“So the ministry of the environment is currently aware that Lafarge has their industrial facility there,” he said. “Looking at the land from an aerial view… there is an existing residence… that… directly abuts against LaFarge’s facility. Zero separation… and there are no complaints to the Ministry of the environment… In contrast, this development is quite a distance away and it does meet the ministry of environment guidelines… so if Lafarge is not having adverse effects on that residential property right next door to it, it’s physically impossible for LaFarge to pollute any residences which are 200 metres away from their property line.”
He said that is currently under review by the Ministry of Environment.
“I think one of my main concerns at this time continues to be with parking,” Coun. Lee Anne Andriessen. “I realize that these… are one-bedroom apartments but people have visitors regularly and… I continue to have concerns around cars needing to park and access those businesses.”
Coun. Terry Seiler said he was concerned about garbage pickup; he also requested a report from the North Perth Fire Department regarding emergency vehicles turning around in the parking lot and said snow removal was a concern.
Coun. Matt Richardson also raised concerns about parking.
Council voted unanimously to defer making any decision until more information is available.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner