It’s one of the development proposals that has prompted renewed calls for a tree-cutting bylaw along with clearcutting at 119 Townline Road East, known as the Summit development. Huntsville does not have a tree-cutting bylaw and is therefore unable to prevent the clearcutting of trees on private property.
The proposed subdivision at 120 Town Line Road East with access to Forbes Hill Drive, whose developer has also been maligned for clear-cutting a swathe of land before planning approvals were in place, returned to Huntsville’s planning committee on October 14.
The lot at 120 Town Line Road East has preexisting development rights for five estate residential lots but the developer has put forth an amendment for the creation of 14 residential lots. Each lot would have a minimum area of 685 m² with about 18 metres of frontage on a private condominium road. The largest lot would be about 5.1 hectares in area. Each lot would be serviced by municipal water and sewer services. An internal private road would connect the lots and provide access to Forbes Hill Drive over an existing private road known as Town Line Road East, according to planning reports.
The application made its way to committee last month, essentially asking its members to sign off on a request for condominium and draft subdivision approvals at the District, but committee members refused, with the majority preferring to defer the application pending further discussions with the developer regarding things like the creation of trails and the overall environmental impact of tree removal.
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano led the charge saying she was not a fan of the project.
Councillor Jonathan Wiebe concurred. “I won’t be supporting this application, nowhere near, but I also thank the applicant because now I believe we are positioned to discuss a tree-cutting bylaw because they’ve essentially left us no choice.”
Deputy Mayor and committee chair Nancy Alcock said she was hoping to see a more resilient and progressive development, and guided staff on some of the issues she hoped could be addressed with the developer.
The application returned to committee on October 14, along with a conceptual drawing and a letter to the Mayor and council from the developer, Barry Barisic.
In a letter to councillors, Barisic noted that the initial approval for the five lots had received a peer-reviewed environmental impact study indicating that no cutting of trees be undertaken during nesting season between April and October.
“Clearing was eventually done in February 2020 consistent with the approval and accounted for approximately 15 per cent of the property. The remaining portion of the rugged property shall remain in its natural state,” he noted.
Prompted by a question from Terziano, staff said they could not confirm or deny whether just 15 per cent of the property had in fact been cleared.
Barisic also premised in his letter that the clear-cutting that had taken place was not done with 14 but with the five approved lots in mind.
“With regard to the criticism that clearing was done on the revised proposal, in fact the clearing conducted was consistent with the needs of the approved development and it closely matches the later revised proposal submitted. The building envelope is virtually the same. Engineering studies concluded that due to the nature of the topography, a low lying wet area on top of the ridge with very few healthy trees where the principal home was to be built, a low lying area close to Townline Rd. and a steep ridge in between the two, meant that extensive grading would be necessary in the building envelope in order to facilitate the road construction, build functional water drainage and install appropriate services. The survival of any trees in that envelope was unlikely given this grading requirement,” he stated.
The applicant agreed to construct a pedestrian path between the proposed entrance to the cul de sac and the Forbes Hill Drive and Town Line Road East intersection, along the private portion of the road, among other requirements.
Prompted by questions from Wiebe asking what would make the buildings stand out from an environmental perspective and make the development something that would be welcomed in the community, Barisic , who was available at the meeting remotely, said he’s planning on investigating the use of solar panels where possible and intends to implement other technology, also wherever possible, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
“I think you will be pleased when this project is completed. There’s ample space for reforesting, replanting, and landscaping and I believe the location is unique, and once completed it will stand out as a positive in Huntsville,” said Barisic. “As far as my environmentalism is concerned, I stand on my record and I’m quite proud of it. It was no pleasure removing those trees, but if you’ve taken a look at what was actually there before the trees were removed, only a trailerful of trees were actually removed from that property. Sparsely forested second growth with a few large trees in between and frankly the upper part was a swale that was holding water and preventing any kind of forest to thrive. Once properly graded and landscaped, I think this will be a very nice development.”
In the end, the majority of committee members voted in favour of recommending that the District move forward with the required applications, with Wiebe voting against it.
You can find the full staff report, including Barisic’s letter, at this link.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!