Committee defers planning approvals for 18 Legacy Lane, following lengthy discussions about traffic

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A development planned for 18 Legacy Lane is causing concern among area residents who question the impact another multi-residential development will have on what they say is an already congested area.

Up to 59 residential units are being proposed on a 1.8-hectare parcel of land at 18 Legacy Lane. The proposed development would be made up of a multi-residential building, semi-detached homes and townhouses, according to Town planning documents. The developer is proposing to access the development via Legacy Lane.

According to planning staff, Legacy Lane is owned by Chartwell which constructed the private road. Committee also learned that while liability for the private road sits with Chartwell, when the surrounding lots were created, including 18 Legacy Lane, the municipality granted those lots a legal right-of-way over the private road.

At its September 12 meeting, Planning Committee was presented with a petition signed by more than 100 residents who live at Chartwell retirement residence, Vernon View Condominiums and Serenity Place Crescent. They asked committee to refrain from granting access to the development via Legacy Lane and suggested that the development could be accessed from either Kinton Avenue or Hanes Road, rather than exacerbating traffic on an already congested road.

Serenity Place Crescent was developed with a 6.4-metre road. There is no parking. We have to remove all cars from the road… to allow the garbage pick-up on a weekly basis. It is absolutely ridiculous, it was the biggest error that I think council has ever made.Serenety Place Crescent resident

“There is no overflow parking for Serenity Place Crescent, therefore we are forced to park on Legacy Lane. It is not illegal, it’s a private road. So what are we going to do when we allow this next construction to veer through Legacy Lane? There will be so much traffic,” the resident added.

Another area resident noted that both Legacy Lane and Serenity Place Crescent are private roads, occupied by many seniors. “I think by bringing traffic through onto Legacy Lane, and back and forth from Hanes Road, will create a possible traffic hazard or danger to not only people using that area but certainly to the residents who reside there,” he added.

Planning Consultant for the applicant, Wayne Simpson, argued against staff’s recommendation to defer planning approvals until a traffic study has been conducted to the Town’s satisfaction.

He said a traffic study had already been conducted by Stantec in April 2015, which took into account 33 townhouses. “The conclusion of that report was that no road improvements were required to accommodate the development. So this property has already been assessed by a site-specific traffic study to look at 33 units. What’s currently proposed is a maximum of 60, probably more about 59, so we’re talking about 25 units over and above what was studied by Stantec in that traffic brief,” said Simpson.

He argued that as per the study’s conclusion, traffic operations on Hanes Road as well as the Centre Street and Legacy Lane intersection should be monitored along with the pace and intensity of other area development to determine whether municipal infrastructure such as left turning lanes might be required.

“I don’t think it would be fair to place any burden of responsibility to make improvements solely on my client’s property,” said Simpson. In terms of accessing the new development from Kinton Avenue, Simpson said the grade is too steep. “The grade from the site down to Kinton Avenue would be 13 per cent and that is like five to 5.5 per cent higher than the maximum normally approved by the municipality.” He also said it would open more traffic from Kinton Avenue to the area.

He further argued that it would be unfair for those living in the new development to be obligated to drive through an industrial business park to get to their dwelling. “The reality of the matter is that this lot was created by approvals by the Town of Huntsville and allowed this together with a legal right-of-way right out to Centre Street on Legacy Lane. So my client has a legal right to go along Legacy Lane out to Centre Street, and that’s a fact.”

Councillor Bob Stone said the road has always been a problem. He said it’s too narrow and always comes up whenever that area is discussed. In terms of access through Kinton Avenue, while Stone agreed that it is too steep, he noted that it does not have to go “straight down.” He also seemed to recall talk of an alternative route for that area.

Town Manager of Planning Kirstin Maxwell said when the Serenity Place development was being discussed, permission to access that lot off Hanes Road was granted, but instead the developer chose to access it via Legacy Lane. She also said that if permission were to be granted to 18 Legacy Lane to access off Kinton Avenue, it would have to be specifically elaborated in the bylaw because a swath of land adjacent to the road allowance is designated as parkland.

Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano noted that  there is yet another development proposed that fronts on Centre Street. She said that as much as Legacy Lane is not the municipality’s responsibility, something needs to be done.  “It needs to be addressed because we can’t just keep approving increased density in an area that the traffic flow can’t handle,” she said.

“I’m pro-development,” added Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison. “But it’s got to be done smart and this hasn’t been done very smart, so I think we need to take a closer look at it.”  Aitchison also noted that recreational trails were originally planned in that area, which have not materialized.

Councillor Nancy Alcock, who chairs the planning committee, asked staff what additional requirements could be asked of the developers in that area.

“It’s a little tricky when you’re dealing with a private road that has already gone through planning approvals—what you can require them to do,” responded Huntsville Senior Planner Elizabeth Reimer. She said the proponent can be required to make improvements on a municipal road if it is determined that their development is the tipping point for capacity, but it’s harder to require something to be done on a private road.

I feel very much like this is spiraling a bit out of control. I think what I’d like to see us do is take a step back, sit down with the applicants, some of the neighbours… I mean, I don’t think we need to force them to spend thousands of dollars on some ridiculous study. I mean we complain constantly about having to spend money on consultants around this table; then we force people to go out and spend money on consultants. How much of planning is about getting neighbours to work together? So let’s sit down and facilitate that. Let’s talk to everybody.Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison

Aitchison also emphasized that the developer has certain development rights. “So I don’t think that we should be too officious and pushy here. I’m asking that we all sit down and have a conversation, not that we demand this, that and the other thing. Let’s see if we can sort out what the problems really are, what we can do to alleviate that and if the municipality needs to play a role in some way, if the developer can help in some way—that’s all I’m asking. So let’s not get crazy with demands about crosswalks and sidewalks on private lands just yet. Let’s talk to everybody first, that’s all I’m saying.”

Alcock responded by saying she appreciated everything the Mayor had said. “Perhaps the way I talked about it was a bit more officious than need be. From my perspective, I was looking at it seems that there are certain issues that consistently are being raised and so I think that I agree that it would be good to bring together the people that are involved and who live in that community, but also the developers who have already received certain rights. So I just think that would make a whole lot of sense.”

Stone added that another access definitely needs to be considered and the municipality should be a part of achieving that goal.

Huntsville Director of Planning Derrick Hammond said if committee deferred approvals it would give staff an opportunity to study historical approvals and get a better understanding of what the vision was at the time and “whether or not there’s existing approvals on title that may address the issue of shared maintenance on the road vis-a-vis other parcels to be involved at some point in time.”

Although the height of the building was not discussed in detail, the applicant is asking for a three-metre height exemption from the 11 metres the property is zoned for, according to Reimer. Simpson also noted during the meeting that the height of the proposed building would be situated below the tree line and be “2.5 to 2.7 metres lower than Chartwell.”

Committee deferred planning approvals to facilitate a meeting with area stakeholders. You can find the full planning report here and related story here.

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6 Comments

  1. My Goodness! Such anguish! If someone wants to build on a site that is landlocked, without a full ingress or egress then the developer should be told to pony up to build the required access. Why are my tax dollars even paying for the staff to consider all this stuff? Also, why are my Councillors apologising for sound too officious? Isn’t that what they are supposed to sound like – official-?
    BUT: widening that wee road is one thing, access to entering or crossing Centre St. is another. I was talking to a fellow who was visiting friends in the condos that are already there and he thought it would be nice – seeing as how it was a nice day – to walk over to Timmy’s and buy Ice Caps for everyone. After standing at Centre St. for 5 minutes he walked back to the condo and got his truck and went back and simply pulled out in front of the traffic – since nobody was conceding any room for him to cross – and got the Timmy’s stuff. Coming back, he went around the block to Hanes Rd. hung a right and sat in the middle of Centre Street and used his vehicle’s bulk to make a left to get back. Come on people, you can plan better than that!

  2. The towns planning dept. and council made an error in judgement back about 2003 and created this mess. I believe that it is time for the council to rectify that error and do the right thing and tell the developer to access off Kinton and or Hanes or else walk away.

  3. One more wee little comment:
    That strip of roadway is often used by the folks in Chartwell to go for a walk when the road is dry. Hence the bench at the top of the hill. Hmmm, haven’t noticed it lately, is it still there?
    Did I read right? The developer wants a height exemption for one more floor? Sounds familiar!

  4. This parcel of land was the residential portion of Muskoka Commerce Court and the original estimate was that the property would have 100 residences. There was no retirement home or nursing home in that estimate. It has surpassed the amount of traffic estimates and is a known safety risk for those residents. As the council has the responsibility for the safety of its residents, COMMON SENSE should tell you that if you double or triple the volume of traffic on this road you are putting lives at risk. Also there are a number of lots on Capstone Lane that have development rights and will also create that much more of a problem at the Centre St. intersection. They don’t need another expensive traffic study. All they have to do is open their minds.

  5. It’s very obvious that there are many issues related go this project of which the root problem was/is bad planning and associated approvals without consideration for future development and the residents who live and/or will live in this predominately seniors’ area.
    Legal rights and ownership must be respected. Many parties have a vested interest in this and they must all be at the same table to resolve them.

  6. I’m sorry to be a contrarian, but governments are elected to govern; not to hold stakeholder meetings with attendant straw polls. I well remember your Senior Planner being thrilled when this application was submitted initially: nobody asked for a traffic study; ergo, no traffic study. “A stitch in time saves nine.”

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