Burlington City Council has resigned itself to the fact that seven-storey buildings will eventually be constructed at the north ends of Clearview and St. Matthew’s Avenues adjacent to the Aldershot GO Station.
The question has haunted the low density neighbourhood for several years with many residents opposed to the height.
In a statement issued Wednesday the City basically conceded the disputed height issue. It said that it will raise only two issues when the matter is heard at the November 30th Local Planning Appeals Tribunal hearing. The first is a disagreement over parking and the second relates to planning technicalities.
Wednesday’s statement said Council met in closed session on September 28th to discuss a revised proposal put forward by Coletara Developments. That proposal was for two seven-storey buildings joined by a shared one-storey lobby facing Masonry Court. The buildings would hold a total of 164 residential units.
The original 2018 proposal for one larger six storey building was denied by Council resulting in the revised plan.
Along with its statement, the City also released the planning analysis that it considered in closed session. That report said in part; “Staff are of the opinion that the proposed concept represents appropriate growth within the built boundary and that with the exception of a concern related to parking, the proposal is appropriate for the subject lands”.
It goes on to say; “The City’s Official Plan encourages residential development and residential intensification within the Urban Planning Area to increase the availability of a variety of housing options…………. This objective directs intensification to transportation corridors that frame existing residential neighbourhoods.”
Residents in nearby homes have never agreed. They believe the proposed tall buildings are incompatible with their low density neighbourhood to the south. At a recent public meeting Michael Burjaw summarized the neighbourhood’s concern when he told Council “It’s too high”.
The report argues the opposite. “Staff are satisfied that the revised proposal is compatible and respects the transition to the adjacent low-density residential neighbourhood”.
Planning staff point out that the revised plan includes: improved setbacks, better landscaping and terracing into a two-storey structure along St. Matthew’s Avenue. The plan “has also broken up the proposal into two separate buildings separated by a lobby structure …….This change results in less building length and mass and prevents residents to the south from seeing one large, continuous wall”.
But, the disagreement over parking continues. The development proposes only 181 parking spots but the City believes this to be short by 98. “The proposed deficient parking ratio is not justified or supportable”.
“The Aldershot community has challenges with regards to on-street parking in the vicinity of the Aldershot GO Station”……….. A shortage of parking spaces at the GO Station lot results in GO commuters occupying the limited on-street parking supply in the neighbouring local streets and (they) will continue to park illegally in order to find spots closer to the station. This will continue to create future challenges for the residents”, according to the report.
Staff suggest the parking situation could be improved by reducing the number of residential units, converting more units to multi-bedroom suites or providing an additional half-level of underground parking. This will be the City’s primary issue at the LPAT hearing.
Nearby residents still opposed to the development are expected to raise the height issue at the hearing.
Aldershot Councilor Kelvin Galbraith commented “Although the local residents will not be completely satisfied with the end result here,” he said, “there are many wins that the community voices achieved including additional landscape buffers, townhomes facades in St. Mathews court, access only from Masonary court to the entire site and a 45 degree angular plane to the low density abutting residential neighbourhood. This was a tough location for planning staff to not support density due to the policy framework at hand and the proximity to the Aldershot Go station. I am certain that the parking will be resolved at LPAT in short order and they will be granted approval shortly after to develop the site”.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward kicked off her 2018 election campaign on Clearview Avenue.
By Rick Craven