Huntsville’s planning committee has put off planning approvals for another month for a phased condominium development at 46 Hanes Road, being referred to as the Highcrest Muskoka development.
The lands at 18 Legacy Lane also form part of the development which, in its entirety, would consist of 151 dwellings. Thirty-three bungalow townhouses at 18 Legacy Lane have already been approved as phase one of the project. The applicant’s agent, Wayne Simpson, was before Huntsville’s planning committee on July 14 asking for rezoning amendments for an additional 38 bungalow townhouses and two, four-storey apartment buildings containing 40 units each for a total of 80 units, as part of the next phase of the project to be located at 46 Hanes Road.
The size of the land at 46 Hanes Road is 2.5 hectares with 190 metres of road frontage. While the property at 18 Legacy Lane is 1.8 hectares in area with no municipal road frontage.
“The driveway for the townhouse development providing access to Hanes Road would ultimately become a street in later phases of that development. To facilitate construction of this driveway, and the first phase of the development, the Town and applicant completed a transfer of the intervening town-owned lands in exchange for lands on the western boundary of the subject lands,” Richard Clark, Town manager of planning, reminded the committee.
In separate correspondence with Huntsville Doppler, Huntsville director of planning Kirstin Maxwell indicated that two condominium roads would connect off Hanes Road and service the entire development. She also said it is her understanding that the multi-residential buildings proposed would contain underground parking.
Planning consultant Wayne Simpson, who was representing project developer Dave Goodfellow, told the committee there would be a 10-metre setback on the east, west, and south side of the Hanes Road part of the development with a smaller setback on the north side where it abuts the first phase of the development on 18 Legacy Lane. He also said there would be a six-metre setback where the property abuts the Chartwell townhomes.
According to Simpson, his client is prepared to build a pedestrian pathway on the road allowance adjacent to the property to ensure better pedestrian movement along Hanes Road. “And also, there have been discussions and Dave Goodfellow has agreed to work with the Town… to build at his cost a trail along the west side of the property,” he said, which would connect to Kinton Avenue. “So that would be a public trail on public land… that would be constructed.”
Renderings were provided for the bungalow townhomes but not for the multi-residential buildings proposed.
The committee also heard from two area residents at the meeting, which was held virtually.
Bob Mallette, president of the Serenity Place Crescent Condominium Corporation, asked committee for more time to analyze the proposal. “We are not opposed to the construction of the development as it was presented… however, we are not experts in planning in the building process and with each additional piece of information that’s been shared with us, we find ourselves overwhelmed with detail which is foreign to most of the residents at Serenity Place Crescent.”
Mallette said some of the concerns involve the extent of vegetative buffers between Serenity Place and the proposed development. He also expressed concern regarding the proposed walking trail between Hanes Road and the back of the Serenity Place townhomes. “This would interfere with the residents’ privacy and increase in noise level on Hanes, or from Hanes. Once again, these topics, along with the Town’s consent to access the technical background reports received yesterday, we require further study and communication within our community.” He asked for a 30-day deferral.
Kaye Leslie, a resident at Serenity Place for three years, thanked the board of the condominium and their work on the file, but she said she felt residents did not have enough information about the proposal and asked for more time.
Leslie said she’s been in touch with councillors as well as the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks about the amount of blasting residents have had to endure in the last year. She described it as horrendous and said it has literally shaken residents to the core, including their pets. She worried about damage and said when she reached out to the Ministry, “they referred to Muskoka as the Wild West, that we have no bylaws around blasting, and they can’t do much.”
She also expressed concern about rampant deforestation. “Everything beautiful, frankly, I think here is being destroyed and I think as community members we are losing not only probably property value when this becomes a cement jungle, we might as well be living in Toronto. But I think that, you know, what is beautiful and peaceful and the nature that we have had we are going to sadly lose even if we have a few metres of tree coverage and visual screens, whatever. It’s going to be, I think, devastating to our landscape.”
Councillor Bob Stone questioned the impact of four-storeys. “I believe that is the maximum height of buildings that is allowed and are these buildings going to affect [the]tree line or the visual from the lake?” he asked.
Clark did confirm that the proponent was seeking permission for 16-metre high buildings instead of the current 11 metres allowed. He said a visual impact assessment was conducted and “due to the height of surrounding trees it wouldn’t be visible from many of the vantage points that we’d be worried about. It is more closeup views that would be changed, so Hanes Road you would see, depending on what vegetation was removed, you’d see [from]bungalows there,” as well as from adjacent developments, he noted.
Councillor Jonathan Wiebe said he was in support of deferring planning decisions for another 30 days. He said committee should see the visual impact the proposed buildings would have. “Without knowing the height, size, massing – without being able to see that, I think it is in fact premature to approve it,” he said, adding that it seems that somewhere there has been a breakdown in communication. “Clearly there is a large group of folks who don’t feel that they’ve received all the up-to-date information and so as their councillor I’m going to be putting forth a motion to defer for 30 days.”
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano said whether the committee defers planning approvals remains to be seen, “but either way this is a public meeting, so I think it’s important that we ask all of our questions today.”
Terziano wanted to know why the developer is asking for a height exemption of 16 metres.
“I just want to point out that the tallest of these two buildings will be 10 metres lower than the top of Vernon View – so the equivalent of three storeys,” said Simpson. “We’re looking for 16 metres, the maximum height, not that it would be exactly 16 metres but there’s a penchant to put some green space on the top of one of the buildings and it would be more of a common space for people in the building to be able to share so we would need some sort of structure on the top… and it wouldn’t be the full length of the roof line but there would be some sort of access… elevator access to the location, some sort of room shelter and we would be able to use the roof as part of a green space amenity area for both buildings”
Terziano said she did not find the answer satisfactory and “I’m probably going to very much support Councillor Wiebe’s motion to defer now. Not that that was my intent originally because I don’t want to create a hardship for the developer but there’s just too much grey area on the height of these buildings and what they’re going to look like.”
She also clarified comments made about Huntsville being the Wild West as it pertains to blasting. “We don’t control blasting… as a municipality. I don’t think it’s because we’re in the Wild West, I hope it’s not. Municipalities, in general, don’t control blasting, do they?” asked Terziano of municipal staff.
Maxwell said the issue has come up in the past, which prompted her to research the topic “and it does not appear that any municipalities do control blasting and the concerns that were raised are normally dealt with through the Ministry of the Environment,” she said, adding that the municipality is able to control things like noise for which it does have a bylaw in place.
Committee chair Nancy Alcock questioned whether other municipalities ask for blasting information, such as when it will occur and whether there is follow-up with respect to issues around blasting. Maxwell said she is not aware of municipalities asking for blasting plans but did note that whoever is doing the blasting has a responsibility to ensure that they are addressing any offsite impacts. She also said they have an opportunity to conduct pre-blast surveys.
Councillor Dan Armour asked Simpson if a pre-blast assessment had been done. Simpson said the Ministry has maximum thresholds for seismic readings and a pre-blast survey had been done ahead of time. if there is damage as a result of blasting it would be the responsibility of the developer to remedy the situation. He also said every blast is monitored and the records can be made available to the municipality.
Councillor Stone said he too is in favour of deferral and said he hopes the developer comes back with visuals of the proposed buildings and how they’re going to make them look “Muskoka-like.”
Mayor Terziano said there are aspects of the development that can be controlled through site plan approval and while she’s comfortable with that, she is not comfortable with approving a 16-metre-high building. She proposed to remove that as a condition and perhaps consider it at a later stage. “I mean I understand why the developer needs to get going and I also understand some of the concerns, but I think most of the concerns are going to be through site plan, aside from the height.”
Simpson said the current bylaw allows for 11 metres which is not what the developer is looking for. “Council recently approved greater heights than 11 metres for the development on Campus Trail. So, I think it would be punitive if the Town took out the requirement and then left it at 11 [metres],” he said, adding that it would be better to return to committee with more information in order to satisfy councillors about the look of the buildings, “maybe that would be the prudent thing and if that means a deferral, I think so be it.”
Committee deferred decisions on planning requests for another month.
You can find the planning report here (pdf).
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