Public meeting held online last Tuesday
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The process continues with regards to the proposed development at 665 James Street North, the former home of the Flooring and Paint Store.
In February, the Independent wrote that the “James Street North apartment proposal sent back to drawing board”, as the Town of St. Marys Planning Advisory Committee meeting on February 18th unanimously agreed that the proposed 5-storey apartment building was too far beyond the parameters of the Town plan to be considered.
In June, “Revised plans for 665 James Street North development supported by PAC” struck a more positive tone, with PAC members appreciative of the various changes made by the developer to address the concerns raised during the February meeting. As a result, the development advanced to the next phase in the process, which was the statutory public meeting, which was held this past Tuesday prior the regular Council Meeting.
Although the revised plans for the now four-storey apartment building dealt with many of the issues brought up in February, significant questions remained for those residents most affected by the proposed development – those in the Edison Street area of town whose homes lie directly to the north.
Through a combination of recently submitted letters and live statements during Tuesday’s proceedings, this was nearby residents’ opportunity to raise issues for consideration. Due to space constraints in this article, the following are excerpts from these letters and statements from various citizens that were recognized as part of the Public Meeting:
“At the time of our purchase, we were advised by our builder that the land housing the Paint Shop was zoned commercial. We hoped that eventually something commercial would be built there that would further add value to our great subdivision. Perhaps a convenience store or one storey professional building. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine a 5-storey building (now amended to a 4-storey apartment building) would be even considered in our area which has no structure over 2 storeys.”
• Margaret and James Bell, 6-74 Edison Street
“My biggest concern with this development is over privacy for the adjoining bungalow townhouses. The parking lot and balconies look directly into the back yards and bedrooms of the six townhouses to the north of the development. 22.214.171.124 (f) of the town plan states: that sufficient on-site parking is provided and adequate buffering, screening or separation distance is provided to protect adjacent areas of lower density housing… …My view is that a border of mature coniferous trees be included in any plans, perhaps in conjunction with some panels, to ensure there is year round privacy.”
• Jim Shook, 11-74 Edison
“It is common knowledge today that both the husband and wife each have employment outside the home, therefore requiring two cars per household. The proposed site allows for approximately forty parking spaces (Editor’s note: 44 to be precise). Thirty-five proposed apartments with two cars per household will require seventy parking spaces. There is no space allotted for visitor parking…In summary there is NOT enough land area for the proposed apartment building.”
• Bruce and Karen Robertson, 2-74 Edison
“The proposed 44 spaces for 35 units meets the Residential zoning bylaw but, will not meet the need…Since there is no on street parking on Glass Street or James Street North, the only place overflow would be able to park is on Edison Street. I live on Edison and believe me the homeowners already use the street for parking, sometimes on both sides of the street which with added cars from the proposed apartment, a firetruck would have no way to service the street if a fire occurs.”
• Larry Hughes, 98 Edison Street
“I am concerned that there is not nearly enough parking. The Canadian average is 1.5 vehicles per household, and I assume that there will be visitors to the occupants.”
• Bill Mustard
“I ask that you consider the property owners on Edison Street the right to privacy and happiness. They bought their homes believing the property in question would be a small, one story commercial space. They also believed that should anything change, as urban spaces do, the most they would have to contend with would be a 3 storey building….I would ask you not only to respect the current official plan and by-laws, but also the property owners of Edison Street.”
• Alex Stephens, 125 Millson Crescent
“Many of the residents seem upset with a four-story development overlooking their properties. They will be accused of NIMBY-ism by many. I’d like you to consider whether you would like somebody peering into your backyard and windows while you conduct your daily activities…I don’t believe that this is a case of local residents not wanting lower income families into their neighbourhood.”
• John Stevens
Mayor Strathdee thanked residents for participating in the process. “I appreciate you calling in,” he said to a resident from nearby Lady Court, as one example. “We are making a list of all the concerns and Council will be asking for a report” on how the concerns will be addressed.