Questions, concerns loom large for Penetanguishene development neighbours

·6 min read

Dozens of residents neighbouring a proposed development on Robert Street East voiced their concerns at a recent planning meeting.

Penetanguishene resident Tony Huguenin represented 64 residents who signed a petition requesting specific changes to the subdivision.

Some of the concerns he brought forward were around the incompatibility of the proposed development of 33 townhouses with the single-detached houses across the street from it.

"The current proposal fails to recognize and respect five decades of living history 'across the street' at the properties we and the neighbourhood proudly call our homes,'" he wrote in a letter submitted prior to the meeting.

The petition, also submitted as part of the meeting's agenda, further outlined some of the issues residents in the neighbourhood had.

"The street townhouses do not provide an appropriate transition of density with the single-detached houses of our neighbourhood," stated the petition. "The street townhouses that front onto Burke Street and onto Robert Street East will be problematic with those streets with respect to overall congestion (housing, driveways and parking) as well as traffic safety and should instead front onto an internal road to resolve problems. Our concerns over lack of information on the purpose, category, ownership and management of the rental units."

In addition, Huguenin outlined concerns for the site were around winter snow storage, stormwater management, asphalt on the driveway, and pre-sodding of the lawns.

He also had some suggestions for solutions.

"An internal road will relieve the compounding of the traffic from the subdivision," said Huguenin. "With zoning, I wanted to note that height is of great interest to myself and the others. If it is limited to one storey, we're completely agreeable to it."

Huguenin also said that the public should be shown drawings of the dwellings.

"We would say site-plan control should be applied to all townhouses because of their nature," he said, adding he's also worried about the proposed density of the development.

"It's not a game of Tetris where you try to jiggle the lots to fit this triangular-shared parcel," he said referring to the 2.9-acre plot.

Celeste Phillips, owner, Celeste Phillips Planning Inc., who was representing property owner Bryan MacPherson, at the public meeting tried to provide some answer to the questions brought up.

She started out by saying that out of the total units proposed, 22 will be freehold street-facing townhouses and 11 will be rental dwellings on a private roadway. The rental units will be managed by the owner Bryan MacPherson.

"The proposed density meets the provincial target set by the province for Penetanguishene," said Phillips. "The development will help the town meet its intensification targets. This concept represents infill development and will add to the range of housing types in town."

She said that as a planner, it's her position that the comparison of this proposed development to others in town is not appropriate or fair.

"Your official plan and the county's official plan both indicate that development within built-up areas, such as this, may be in a higher density," added Phillips.

She also addressed the concerns around compatibility with the character of existing houses in the area.

"The LPAT (Local Planning and Appeal Tribunal) has ruled compatible doesn't necessarily mean the same as," said Phillips. "(These units) are in character with the area. The neighbourhood has a variety of housing types and styles."

The property, she said, is an island surrounded on three sides by roads.

"It doesn't abut existing dwellings, so there's no shadow impact and no loss of privacy for existing homeowners," Phillips said.

She answered the traffic-related queries by referencing the traffic impact study filed with the application.

"Yes, there will be an increase in traffic but that increase will not be to the extent that turning lanes or road improvements will be required," said Phillips. "The study that has been submitted concluded that the capacity of the current roadways can accommodate what is considered to be an insignificant increase to area traffic."

She also addressed comments she had received from the County of Simcoe with respect to waste disposal.

"I have provided comment that the road width and the radius of this private laneway is of sufficient size to allow the county to pick up garbage from all the dwellings," explained Phillips.

She also gave an explanation around the height of the proposed buildings.

"The height in this particular area of town is 11 metres," said Phillips. "Mr. MacPherson has no desire to build three-story townhouses."

Parking inside the subdivision is in conjunction with the town's parking bylaw, she said.

"There were questions about street parking and possible congestion, I would note that no on-street parking is permitted in the town within nine metres of an intersection," said Phillips.

As for stormwater management, she said, experts are proposing an underground stormwater management tank.

"This is not unusual anymore, in fact it's quite frequently used," said Phillips. "It's a subsurface stormwater management facility. The post development flows have to match the pre-development flows and that has been demonstrated in the technical reports filed."

The driveways will be asphalted and the town's site-plan control will take a deeper look at tree plantation and snow storage among other factors, she said.

"There is no requirement by the town to submit architectural drawings, except for rental units, which are subject to site-plan control," Phillips said, answering Huguenin's question.

Council also had some questions for the planner.

"I was wondering what's the setback from the road's edge to the garage?" asked Coun. Dan LaRose.

Phillips said the minimum setback is six metres and that's what's being provided.

"Just a reminder then, an average pickup truck is longer than six metres and that's without the snowbanks," said LaRose.

The proposed density and compatibility were also an issue for some council members.

"I was having a difficulty reconciling the difference between the density on the one side compared to the other," said Coun. George Vadeboncoeur, who was seconded on that issue by Coun. Jill St.Amant. "If the density could be reduced somewhat to link singles, instead of townhouses, I think that would be compatible with the types of residences across the street."

The feedback and comments received during the public meeting will be addressed by staff in the form of a report, which will be presented at a future committee of the whole meeting for further discussion and questioning.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com