The severance was requested to build a second house on the property, on the East side. City staff did not support the severance, and it was turned down by the city’s Committee of Adjustment, prompting the OMB appeal.
The city submitted planning opinion evidence arguing the proposed consent would result in the smallest lot within the neighbourhood and would set a precedent for the creation of additional residential lots within the neighbourhood. The city stated the proposed severed lot will not be compatible with the existing physical character of the neighbourhood.
The property, known as the “Seaton House,” is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act – both the building and the land around it. The city argued that the proposed severance and new build would not conserve this cultural heritage resource. The designation bylaw mentions a “parterre” on the East side of the property, where the new building is slated to go. A parterre is a level space in a garden or yard occupied by an ornamental arrangement of flower beds.
In its ruling, the OMB found that while the proposed severed lot would become the smallest lot within the immediate area, it is compatible with the both the lotting pattern and existing physical character of the neighbourhood.
The Board also found that the proposed severance conserves the listed heritage attributes of the City’s cultural heritage by-law. There is no visible remnant of the Parterre Landscape, stated the Board. It found the offer by the Applicant to re-create this parterre within the front yard of the retained lot to be “much preferred over what once existed but can no longer be seen and appreciated.” The precise location of the new parterre will have to be determined through the site plan review process.
Read the OMB decision here: OMB decision 3083 Lakeshore PL130616
Read news article here: Burlington councillor wins OMB appeal against city to sever lot
My Take: I’m disappointed by the OMB decision, and believe it will set a new standard for lot widths in this area, encouraging others to sever and reduce the size of their properties. Over time, this could fundamentally alter the character of this street. I also believe that a new build on the severed lot so close to the existing home will negatively impact the heritage attributes of this designated property. I did have a chance to discuss this matter with Councillor Dennison who showed me his own analysis of lot widths in the area, as well as distance between homes. I also saw a rendering of the proposed new home which aims to match the architectural of the neighbourhood – which is appreciated, as is the commitment to create a parterre in the front yard. I remain of the opinion that two homes on this once single lot will be cramped compared to what is immediately around it.