Huntsville’s planning committee has approved the site plan for a three-storey building at 32 Brunel Road with frontage on the Muskoka River.
The approval consists of 15 condominium units: one one-bedroom unit, six one-bedroom-plus-den units, four two-bedroom units, and four three-bedroom units, according to Huntsville manager of planning Richard Clark.
The developer is proposing about 23 parking spaces, roughly four above ground and 19 underground, according to Clark.
The property has an area of 1,849m². It contained a dwelling and detached garage and has roughly 70 metres of frontage on the river and 72 metres of frontage on Brunel Road.
Clark noted that in 2009 a zoning bylaw amendment had been approved to permit the 15-unit development with underground parking. “Additionally, a minor variance was approved in 2011 to provide additional zoning relief to permit the development within the 200-metre setback requirement between new dwelling units and sewage treatment facilities. A site plan application proposing a similar development was also conditionally approved by the Town in 2012.”
Various iterations of the plan have been proposed through the years—but on April 13, committee concurred with planning staff’s recommendation and approved an updated site plan for a total of 15 units. The approval is conditional on the landscaping being revised to remove hardscaping along the shoreline such as a retaining wall and replacing it with “suitable native plantings wherever feasible to the satisfaction of the municipality.” And that all drawings and plans be to the satisfaction of the municipality and commenting agencies.
Planning consultant for the owner, Lanny Dennis, said he did not anticipate a problem with meeting the conditions subject to the approval of the site plan. “The owners will continue to work with the Town and the District to address their comments and certainly they’re anxious to proceed with the project and one more infilling project to help assist with the housing shortfall in Muskoka,” said Dennis.
Owner Ed Wiebe also spoke to committee at its remotely held meeting. He said it’s been a long process. He started the project in 2009 with his partner Glen Smith and then the real estate market had a downturn in early 2012. But now, with the decommissioning of the sewage treatment plant and with the high demand for housing, it’s a good time to move the project forward.
“I have been doing some preliminary work as you saw in the pictures,” he told committee. “There’s an excavator onsite—we’re just doing some soil sampling now to make sure the site is suitable to accommodate the housing. We’re putting heli coils in so this will just determine the size and the amount of heli coils and once we’re approved, we’ll be ready to get started.”
Huntsville Councillor Bob Stone referred to the building as rather imposing on the river, “and from Brunel it’s right on Brunel Road, so imposing from both sides,” he added. “And yet it addresses serious housing issues and I suppose we have to get our heads around the fact that housing is so important we need to consider these things right on our river. I’m excited to hear there’s going to be some robust vegetation planted. I hope there is a whole lot shielding the building from the river and from Brunel.”
Stone also spoke to Wiebe and said: “I hope the façade of this—some efforts can be made to make it very much Muskoka-like and it’s difficult to define what that means but I think Mr. Wiebe is well-acquainted with what we like to see in Huntsville.”
Councillor Dan Armour asked whether the additional cars associated with the development on Brunel Road would require a traffic study. Dennis said that would be a requirement of the District since Brunel is a District road but he said a unit count under 50 does not typically require a traffic study.
In the end, committee approved the site plan. For more information, you can find the staff report here.
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!