Neigh­bours take is­sue with lat­est sub­di­vi­sion plan for Elmira

South­wood 4 project in the south­west part of town would fea­ture in­creased den­si­ties, rais­ing con­cerns from park­ing to ap­pro­pri­ate­ness

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE KANNON

WHAT THE DE­VEL­OPER CALLS ben­e­fits in propos­ing a new sub­di­vi­sion in Elmira, ex­ist­ing res­i­dents see as noth­ing but prob­lems for their neigh­bour­hood.

In­ap­pro­pri­ate land use, den­si­ties, traffic and park­ing headed a long list of con­cerns aired at a pub­lic meet­ing at Wool­wich coun­cil Mon­day night to dis­cuss the South­wood 4 project. Pro­posed for some 70 acres of land fronting on 1143 Lis­towel Rd. in the south end, it would es­sen­tially form a link be­tween Whip­poor­will Drive and Lis­towel Road.

The Bird­land Devel­op­ments plan pro­poses 444 to 513 new res­i­den­tial units – a mix of sin­gles (176 to 194 houses), semis (50), town­houses (68 to 94 units) and apart­ments (150 to 175) – that would be home to an es­ti­mated 1,165 to 1,300 peo­ple.

Hav­ing that many peo­ple shoe­horned into an area that al­ready has traffic and park­ing prob­lems will cre­ate more is­sues, res­i­dents main­tained. They also raised fears about the in­com­pat­i­bil­ity of denser hous­ing pro­posed to be wedged into a tri­an­gu­lar space along the west end of Whip­poor­will Drive, ad­ja­cent to sin­gle-fam­ily homes on larger lots.

“It doesn’t seem to go with our neigh­bour­hood,” said Can­dace MacKen­zie, air­ing com­mon con­cerns about den­sity and traffic.

She ques­tioned why it was all of the higher den­sity homes – apart­ments and town­houses – were pro-

posed for one spot, rather than be­ing spread through­out the sub­di­vi­sion.

Also a con­cern, she noted, is park­ing. Al­ready a prob­lem, the min­i­mal ex­tra park­ing pro­posed for the denser units, and in­deed the en­tire project, is likely to be in­suf­fi­cient by a wide mar­gin, even if it meets plan­ning re­quire­ments.

“If we keep do­ing the ba­sic min­i­mum, what’s our neigh­bour­hood go­ing to turn into?” asked MacKen­zie.

As pro­posed, the apart­ment blocks – three four­storey build­ings of 55 units each – would not fit into the neigh­bour­hood, hav­ing an ad­verse ef­fect on prop­erty val­ues, sug­gested neigh­bour Steve Racey.

He, too, ex­pressed con­cerns about traffic, which he said is al­ready a prob­lem on Whip­poor­will and Barn­swal­low drives.

“It is be­com­ing a free­way,” he said. “We need stop signs. We need some kind of traffic con­trol to calm the traffic.”

A plan­ner rep­re­sent­ing the de­vel­oper, how­ever, said the project rep­re­sents “good plan­ning” for a “com­plete neigh­bour­hood” that makes good use of land that in­cludes nat­u­ral fea­tures such as a wood­lot and trails.

“We be­lieve there are a lot of ben­e­fits to this plan,” said Douglas Ste­wart of the IBI Group.

Ad­di­tional res­i­dents will pro­vide more cus­tomers for re­tail stores and other ser­vices in town, of­fer­ing a wider diver­sity of hous­ing and den­si­ties, he sug­gested, not­ing the project is the work of a lo­cal de­vel­oper who works with lo­cal builders.

Ad­dress­ing the apart­ment blocks, Ste­wart noted pro­vin­cial rules set out min­i­mum den­si­ties that are higher than in the past. New guide­lines mean devel­op­ments must pro­vide min­i­mum res­i­den­tial den­sity of 45 peo­ple and jobs per hectare. This plan pro­vides for a den­sity of 45 to 51, he said.

Apart­ments are re­quired to meet pro­vin­cial rules, it’s just a matter of where they’re sit­u­ated, he added.

The cur­rent pro­posed lo­ca­tion is Whip­poor­will Drive be­cause it’s an ar­te­rial road and the lot will be at the in­ter­sec­tion of a new col­lec­tor road, Ste­wart ex­plained, adding the lo­ca­tion was cho­sen for “good plan­ning rea­sons.”

Res­i­dents re­mained un­con­vinced, how­ever.

Mock­ing­bird Drive res­i­dent Ben Hoogen­doorn set out a long list of con­cerns, in­clud­ing ques­tions about park­ing, light­ing and snow re­moval. As with his neigh­bours, he noted traffic is “al­ready ter­ri­ble” and only go­ing to get worse with growth.

As there’s no plan for deal­ing with the cur­rent traffic is­sues, there should be no new build­ing un­til that prob­lem is rec­ti­fied, he ar­gued.

Mon­day night’s meet­ing was for in­for­ma­tion pur­poses only, how­ever, so many of the pub­lic’s ques­tions went unan­swered at this point, though they will be ad­dressed in the even­tual re­port from plan­ning staff. Like­wise, coun­cil­lors didn’t weigh in on the matter in any ro­bust way.

Di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing and plan­ning Dan Ken­na­ley noted staff would be tak­ing some time to re­view sub­mis­sions, in­clud­ing or­der­ing peer re­views of the ap­pli­cants’ stud­ies, be­fore com­ing back to coun­cil with a rec­om­men­da­tion about the pro­posed sub­di­vi­sion.

[SUB­MIT­TED]

A map shows the area slated for de­vel­op­ment, an area in the south­west of Elmira be­tween Whip­poor­will Drive and Lis­towel Road.

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