Letter to the Editor

An open letter to the citizens of St. Marys

This letter is to alert the residents of St. Marys that a Big City Developer is trying to impose a Big City Development onto our small town, by applying for an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) and Zoning By-law Amendment for the development of the former Arthur Meighen Public School Site (the Site). Notwithstanding the Amendments would apply only to this Site, it has the potential for setting a dangerous precedent for future developments which could impair the small town flavour of St. Marys.

As stated on the Town’s website, the Official Plan, along with its Community Improvement Plans, guides all planning and development projects in the Town of St. Marys. The current Official Plan was consolidated on Oct. 1, 2007. It’s the result of extensive studies on how St. Marys should proceed with its development. It is subject to a review process every five years, something the Town is in the middle of conducting at this time.

The Official Plan of St. Marys, the blueprint for development in our Town, allows for low rise apartments of no more than three (3) stories (OP Section 3.1.2.7), with a maximum gross density of seventy five (75) residential units per hectare (OP Section 3.1.2.5). The Zoning By-law permits three stories to a maximum of 13.5 metres. This is the maximum size and density the Council of that day felt was appropriate for the Town.

In its proposed development, the owners of the Arthur Meighen Public School Site are asking for a medium rise seniors apartment development of five (5) stories (a 67% increase in the maximum allowed) to a height of 18 metres (a 33% increase in the maximum allowed), with a gross density of approximately one hundred and fifty three (153) residential units per hectare (a 104% increase in the maximum allowed). Thus the need for an OPA and a Zoning By-law Amendment.

The general vicinity of this Site is single family detached buildings. Consequently the proposed development is inappropriate for this Site because it is not in keeping with the attributes of the neighbour in terms of building type, building form, and spatial separation (OP Section 3.1.2.3). There are also the issues of increased traffic, potential impact on the townscape, impact on the nature trail, availability of town services and adequacy of the fire department.

The much broader issue is that if this proposal is approved, other similar properties throughout St. Marys could use the approval as justification for a much larger development than otherwise allowed.

The Planning Advisory Committee will be reviewing this application at its regular meeting scheduled for Nov. 7, 2016 at 6.30 pm in the Municipal Operations Centre at 608 James Street South. I strongly recommend that as many people as possible attend this meeting and lodge your objection to this application to amend the Official Plan and the Zoning By-Law.

Henry Monteith.

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