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Public meeting on Branthaven townhouse project on Ghent

As I have learned more about this project, and the intent of the zoning, I have growing concerns about the scale and density of the project, and its compatibility with the character of the neighbourhood.
Back to back townhouses on Plains Road

Mon. Dec. 3, Council Chambers, 6:30pm

Branthaven’s request to rezone 2072-2102 Ghent to allow 30 two-storey townhomes and 28 3-storey back-to-back townhomes (58 total), will be discussed by the city’s Development & Infrastructure Committee Mon. Dec. 3.

In preparation for that meeting, city planning staff have prepared an information report providing a summary of the development application, an overview of the current policy framework, and identifying issues raised by the technical review and public consultation. A summary of the report is below. Read the full report here.

Summary of project and planning principles

The current Official Plan designation on the site is residential – medium density, which allows a density of up to 50 units per hectare. The site is just over 1ha in size, so the proposed project density is 49/ha.

Townhomes not permitted: However, the zoning that implements the Official Plan does not allow townhouses. As the project site includes 8 assembled properties, there is a mix of zoning. Some of the 8 properties allow detached, semi-detached, duplex and triplex dwellings, as well as retirement homes up to 4 storeys. Some of the properties only allow detached and semi-detached homes. None of the properties are currently zoned for townhomes, thus the need for a rezoning.

Character must be maintained: While the Official Plan encourages residential intensification within the urban boundaries, several criteria must be met including:

  • the amount and form of intensification must be balanced with other planning considerations
    including compatibility and integration with existing residential neighbourhoods. Specifically, compatibility must be achieved with the existing neighbourhood character in terms of scale, massing, height, siting, setbacks, coverage, parking and amenity area so that a transition between existing and proposed buildings is provided. Residents have raised concerns that the housing form and density of the project do not match the current neighbourhood character.
  • Effects on existing vegetation must be minimized, and appropriate compensation must be provided for significant loss of vegetation to assist in maintaining neighbourhood character. The current properties feature single family homes and extensive mature trees. Residents have raised concerns about the loss of trees, vegetation and overall greenspace with the proposed development.
  • Natural and cultural heritage features and areas of natural hazard must be protected. Residents have raised concerns about the impact of the development on stormwater runoff into Rambo Creek, at the back of the property, and the potential for flooding adjacent basements.
  • Proposals for medium and high rise housing intensification shall be permitted only at the periphery of existing residential neighbourhoods on properties abutting, and having direct vehicular access to, major arterial, minor arterial or multi-purpose arterial roads and only provided that the built form, scale and profile of development is well integrated with the existing neighbourhood to provide a transition between existing and proposed residential buildings. This project is well into the interior of the Ghent neighbourhood with detached dwellings immediately adjacent.

As part of the planning process, city staff sought comments from technical and other agencies, including Halton District School Board, Burlington Hydro, Canada Post, Halton Catholic District School Board, Bell Network Services, and the Region of Halton. No objections to the project have been identified by these agencies. There are requests for additional information and recommended conditions.

Branthaven submitted 11 reports and plans in support of their application, most of which you can read online here.

A detailed discussion of the issues raised by the staff review of the application, technical comments and public input will be addressed in a future report, some time in early 2013. That report will also include a staff recommendation to deny, approve or approve with conditions.

Speaking at the public meeting

Back to back townhouses on Plains Road
Back to back townhouses on Plains Road

The staff report will be discussed during a statutory public meeting on Dec. 3, 6:30pm, City Hall, as part of a regular Development & Infrastructure Committee meeting. Residents can attend to provide input on the project to members of council, all of whom sit on the committee. Because this is a statutory public meeting, there is no need to register as a delegation in advance to speak. The chair of the committee will call three times for speakers from the floor. Residents will have up to 10 minutes to address the committee.

I invite residents who wish to provide their feedback to council on this project to attend this meeting and speak.

If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

My Take: Throughout this process, I have committed to keeping an open mind to fairly review and evaluate all the studies and policies relating to this project, as well as listen to residents’ input and concerns, seek solutions, and maintain an open dialogue between residents and the developer. As I have learned more about this project, and the intent of the zoning, I have growing concerns about the scale and density of the project, and its compatibility with the character of the neighbourhood. The intent of the Official Plan is for increases in medium density zones to be permitted on the periphery of neighbourhoods, rather than well into the interior of a neighbourhood, as this project is. The intent of the current zoning, which prohibits townhomes, is to provide a transition between higher density housing and single family homes in the area. Maintaining that transition is one of the criteria in the Official Plan. The significant loss of trees and greenspace, and the impact on the creek to accommodate this requested increase in density is also a concern.

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Marianne Meed Ward

Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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