Further to a story we brought you in April about the clearcutting of lands just east of Forbes Hill Drive near the Canada Summit Centre, you may have noticed that bat houses have been placed on the property.
According to Huntsville director of development services Kirstin Maxwell, “the bat houses were recommended to be installed by the proponents’ biologist through an environmental assessment that had been conducted.”
While Doppler left a message with Nulife Developments, the developer of ‘The Summit’, as the development is being referred to, our call was not returned.
The website for the development states, “With unobstructed views in every direction, The Summit is your exclusive Muskoka lakeside getaway,” and lists stacked townhouses from the mid-$300,000 and condo townhomes from the mid-$700,000.
What we have learned so far, according to an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision from 1995 forwarded to Doppler by the Town’s planning department, is the lands in question with a civic address of 119 and 195 Town Line Road East, comprising almost 17 acres, were the subject of a negotiated agreement before the OMB between the Fairy Lake Association and the previous owner of the lands, Ralna Parent Corporation Limited.
According to the OMB document, the owner of those lands at the time was seeking development rights to build 230 units on those lands and required an Official Plan and zoning amendment from the Town and subdivision approvals from the District. While a previous council at both the Town and District approved the OP amendment, zoning and plan of subdivision, vehement opposition from area residents and the Fairy Lake Association landed the parties at the OMB.
The process took several years but through negotiation the parties, Ralna, and Fairy Lake Association representatives, eventually arrived at an agreement endorsed by the OMB but without an actual hearing.
- Scale back the development on the westerly 17 acres from 230 units to 175.
- To the east, the 11 acres would be developed (and they have been) with five waterfront lots with single detached dwellings adjacent to Fairy Lake and a right of way. These would serve as a buffer between the lake and the “more intense development on the westerly 17 acres.”
- Road access to take into account the environmental sensitivity of the area.
- Minimum building setbacks of 100 feet from the lake.
- A 200-foot “open space window” be developed along the waterfront in the northeast section of the property “to provide access to the lake for the benefit of the owners of the 175 units on the westerly 17 acres.”
- And that height restrictions for all buildings be controlled “to minimize their impact on the surrounding area.”
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano said she’s received inquiries from community members about the clearcutting of trees on those lands. The proponents have come forward with a site plan agreement, which is expected to make its way to the Town’s planning committee once it starts meeting again.
In terms of the clearing of trees without a site plan agreement in place, the municipality does not have a tree removal or site alteration bylaw, although planning staff are working on a permitting system that would address those issues.
“Through site plan we’ll do everything we can,” she said.”People think we can just turn around and undo things. We can’t do that. We’re not a… police state,” said Terziano who added that the municipality has been working on a bylaw which would prevent developers from clearcutting before a site plan agreement is in place. “That’s what we’re working on and we were working on it before they started clearing that land because that’s what we believe we need in place for everything,” she explained, adding that implementing the proposed community permitting system takes time and public meetings have to take place.
Molly Ross, communications officer with the District of Muskoka which approves plans of subdivision and water and sewer services, said the upper-tier municipality has also been getting inquiries about the clearing of those lands.
“The District has been copied on several emails and have also fielded phone calls about the tree clearing and site alteration on this property. We can advise that [we]do not have a complete or active development application at the District level for this property, though we are expecting a future condominium description application to divide ownership of the units once construction is underway. It is the Town of Huntsville that approves site plan applications and would also regulate tree clearing and/or site alteration,” she noted.
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