Council was as unmoving as a rock in a stream on a contentious Penetanguishene development when it came to stormwater management.
A revision for the proposed development at 123 Robert Street East was brought to council, taking into account the concerns raised by area residents recently in regards to the stormwater management and density in the application.
The revised plan by Celeste Phillips Planning Inc. was submitted for council to approve in principle for draft plan conditions of subdivision and a draft zoning bylaw amendment.
“In response to public comments, the developer and their agents… took all the feedback they received from council at the August 11 meeting and revised the application significantly,” said Andrea Betty, the town's director of planning and community development.
Changes include: a reduction from 33 units down to 27 units; the units changing from townhouses to semi-detached units in the freehold blocks; increases to the front-yard setback to help with parking; and other setbacks.
“They’re moving forward and asking council to endorse this in principle, so that we can continue on working on this and finalizing the bylaw and the draft plan conditions,” said Betty.
Coun. Debbie Levy voiced strong need for the assurance that council’s approval in principle wouldn’t be the same as approving the development, which Betty confirmed.
Coun. Brian Cummings noted that the stormwater design had changed on the revised plan.
To answer that point, both Betty and public works director Brian Murray explained that once the developer had the approval in principle from council, that’s when the details of stormwater management and possible additional controls could be worked on.
“Because before the stormwater gets to J.T. Payette Park, they have to demonstrate to the town and our engineering consultants that the infrastructure on Robert Street East and downstream is capable of handling those flows,” said Murray. “If it isn’t, then they need to provide additional controls on site as indicated in their initial submission; and as of right now, we haven’t seen that yet.”
Levy and Cummings reiterated their stance on the stormwater management as their main concern with the project.
“Over the last 40 years,” said Cummings, “we’ve had some pretty severe rain events and some pretty bad flooding in that area. And to add more to that is kind of ridiculous, to think that we can depend on 30- or 40-year-old engineering reports when we’ve had so many different storm events and climate change.
“I think it’s our due diligence to make sure that’s well-managed, even for just the stormwater management end of it,” Cummings concluded.
Coun. Jill St. Amant brought up the omission of townhouses being limited to two storeys in the updated proposal; developer Celeste Phillips replied that the whole area allowed for three storeys.
“With respect to stormwater management,” Phillips addressed, “I just wanted to reiterate that the post-development flows from this property have to match the pre-development flows. You’ll see on the plan that we’ve increased the size of the infiltration area to assist with stormwater management.”
Words weren’t enough for Levy and other members of council, who shared many of the same concerns which had brought members of the public to provide a deputation and petition against the project at the last council meeting.
Coun. Dan LaRose pointed out that the heavy revisions and unknown answers for many of council’s questions were enough to put the brakes on the development.
Levy asked Betty for assurances, which prompted Betty to note that time was also a factor in the process.
“Approval in principle at least gives them some assurance that they’re on the right path,” explained Betty. “We’re in a position where the decision times for applications -- we’re at our time period where they have an ability to appeal a non-decision by the town at this point in time.”
Phillips added, “I think from my perspective and that of my client, it’s been almost a year I think since we applied. So we need to know one way or the other whether we go back to the previous plan which is the townhouse plan, or we carry forward with this plan, and move forward with the detailed designing.
“Until we have an idea of what council is going to accept, we can’t get into the detailed design of the stormwater management,” stated Phillips, who suggested that council put an amendment to the motion which required that final approval would be based on stormwater management as well as the building height to the satisfaction of council.
The suggestion was mostly met with acceptance, and the motion as amended was carried.
Documents regarding the staff report, the revised development proposal, and the letters of petition are available 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