Willow West residents say new development raises safety concerns


By Barb McKay

Opposition continues to plague a multi-residential housing development on the edge of the Willow West subdivision.

Once again, the Municipality of Kincardine council chambers were full of residents for a public meeting on a planning application submitted by developer Tom Kerr. This is the third such meeting related to the project at Kincardine Avenue and Fraser Drive, where two sets of semi-detached homes have already been built, fronting onto Fraser Drive.

Kerr had originally proposed to construct 18 units – three semi-detached houses, six townhouse units and a six-unit apartment building – on the property where a farm house still stands and was recently sold. During a municipal planning meeting last January, council rejected the proposal over concerns related to the number of zoning amendment requests, parking and density of the development.

Rather than appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, Kerr went back to the drawing board to revise his plan and presented it last week. The new plan removes the apartment building and instead includes two quadruplex buildings with access onto Fraser Drive and a third semi-detached house fronting onto Kincardine Avenue. There is also a four bay garage for residents’ use.

“It’s kind of déjà vu,” he said. “It was a year ago that I was here with my last application. The planning report was favourable to my last application, but you people didn’t see it that way.”

Kerr said that council had taken issue with the number of requests for relief from the municipal zoning bylaw and this time he was limiting his requests to three. Kerr is looking for shorter frontage setbacks than what is required under the municipal bylaw (9.9 metres compared to the stipulated 12 metres).

“You’ll probably hear tonight (from residents) that the property is too small and I don’t have enough parking, but I’m well under what the bylaw asks for. I hope you’ll see this in a more favourable position. If you don’t see it my way…”

Kerr said he is following the provincial policy statement and both the Bruce County and municipal Official Plans with his latest plan and he hopes council will see it as a good use of land.

As with his previous proposal, Kerr’s new plan received plenty of opposition from residents of the subdivision, though not as many letters were submitted to the Bruce County planning department. Jamie Hunsburger, a long-time resident of Willow West, had attended planning meetings in September and November of 2016 and was back in front of council last Wednesday. He said the reason 15 resident comments were submitted for this application, in comparison to the 44 that were submitted a year ago, is that many feel that most of the damage has already been.

Concerns remain about traffic and safety, Hunsburger said, particularly given that this is the largest subdivision in Kincardine with a single entrance. Residents also worry that there will not be adequate parking, which will result in roadside parking and create a risk for pedestrians. Issues were also raised with garbage disposal, drainage onto neighbouring properties and the potential to create secondary suites in the quadruplex units, as has been done with one of the semi-detached homes.

Bruce County planner Mollie Kuchma, who introduced the application, said the information presented during the meeting was for information purposes and concerns would be addressed through the site plan process. It will be up to the municipality to approve the site plan. She noted that secondary suites would not be allowed in the quadruplex units, in part because they do not front onto a main road.

Hunsburger said the original plan for the Willow West subdivision was for single family detached homes. With the addition of Kerr’s development, nearly 40 per cent will be non-single family homes and many will be rentals.

“He (Kerr) won’t be living in these units and he won’t have to put up with inconveniences that come with this. I suspect over the past year, most of you have received several emails from various residents on the development.  Perhaps you see them as complaints.  They are in fact driven from those of us who have pride in our community.  Unfortunately that pride is quickly slipping away.”

Deputy Mayor Jacqueline Faubert, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Anne Eadie, asked what the process would be if council chose to deny the application.Kuchma said a notice would be sent to anyone who has participated in the process thus far and there would be a 20-day period during which anyone could appeal the decision to the OMB.

Kuchma said the public still has an opportunity to comment on the application on which she will bring her recommendation back to council in February.

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