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Developer to modify project for Elgin/Blathwayte based on resident feedback

More than 70 residents attended a neighbourhood meeting Thurs. Nov. 13 to hear about the proposal by Landform Development Group for a 5-storey condominium at the corner of Elgin & Blathwayte. The owner has purchased the Wigsville building at 1437 Elgin St., along with two properties to the north at 452 & 454 Locust St. The development proposal does not include Melodia Restaurant.

Southerly view from Blathwayte Lane. Existing townhomes in the foreground.

No planning applications have been submitted to the City of Burlington as yet. The current zoning allows 4-storeys on this site so a rezoning application would be required for the proposed 5-storeys.Following resident input at the meeting, the developer has said they will bring a revised proposal to the city that conforms to current Official Plan and zoning regulations.Below is a writeup from the Burlington Downtown Core Residents Group, a newly formed association that provides a voice for residents in community decision-making, particularly around development proposals.

Resources: Missed the meeting? The minutes, along with the powerpoint, are available here:  Nov 13 2014 Elgin Blathwayte Locust Combined Presentation and Notes Elgin/Blathwayte Nov. 13 2014. You can also email my assistant <georgie.gartside@burlington.ca> to add you to the distribution list for any future meetings on this property.

My Take: I want to thank Landform Development Group for meeting with residents before submitting their formal application, and modifying their proposal based on feedback. This collaborative style of development is the way of the future; it’s how positive, progressive development can be done. I appreciate the architectural features of the building, which attempt to blend into the character of the neighbourhood. I believe the concerns raised about the initial proposal, regarding height, massing, setbacks, surface parking, and lack of retail, can be addressed by following the existing Official Plan and Zoning. I’m pleased that Landform has heard this community feedback and will bring back a proposal that meets the existing planning criteria.

Your Take: What’s your view of the existing proposal and the collaborative process to reach greater consensus on development? Leave a comment below.


Core-Residents-LFT1

 

 

 

Burlington Downtown Core Residents speak on Elgin/Blathwayte development

This past Thursday, Marianne Meed Ward and the City hosted a public meeting on behalf of Landform Group, a development company from Ottawa that has purchased the lots that span from Blathwayte Lane to Locust Street and to Elgin Street. The lots are situated within the Core Precinct boundaries.

The meeting was a gracious gesture by the developer as it isn’t typical to engage the public in a dialogue so early in the design phase. Landform Group was interested in soliciting input from the community so that the feedback could be considered into the intent and final design ahead of application to the city.

The developer presented their vision for the property to a room of 70 or more residents. The tasteful building shown was called the Saxony and was an approximately 42 unit 5 storey condominium situating most of its building mass adjacent to Blathwayte Lane and Elgin Street. The plan as presented did not conform to current zoning for a number of reasons including 5 storeys instead of 4 maximum, it lacked retail on Elgin and Locust Streets, and it included an on grade parking lot.

Though the attending residents had a wide range of comments, one resounding theme was that the community is very resistant to developments that are continually pressuring to change zoning and disrupt the roll-out of the Official Plan. People voiced concern that any change to the zoning by way of forceful developer applications, disturbs the evolution of an area and changes the way people live.

During the presentation, the developer’s architect made it clear that their intention was to respect the community and existing built form and that they were flexible in the product that they wished to bring to the downtown. They suggested that a build which would fit the zoning was previously considered but had been shelved since they presumed the 5 storey would be better received.

The conclusion of the meeting was that Landform Group would consider the feedback and possibly reconsider their plan.

It is important to note that during the meeting and in followup conversations, that residents genuinely appreciated the effort that Landform Group went to to present a thoughtful plan and for their transparency and additional consideration toward a plan that would fit zoning. It left many pinching themselves and saying — “wow, this is how it can and should be”. Most people sincerely thanked Landform for their professionalism and respect.

In recent years, the development process has unfortunately become a contentious issue and is now nothing short of a constant growing stress for residents that have to gear up to fight for what they believe — what they know should be easier if the city and development simply respected the community and zoning guidelines.

So Thursday was an example of a healthy process between the city, the developer and the community in which they work.


Letter to the Core Residents Group from Landform

As we prepared this summary, we received a letter from Landform Group:

_Core Residents Group_
_Burlington, ON_
_Re: Our presentation on Thursday November 13th_

_On behalf of Landform Development Group, (LDG), I would like to express sincere thanks to all of the ward residents who attended our pre-development proposal on Thursday evening. The attendance was larger than we expected and the comments we received are appreciated._

_I would also like to thank Councillor Marianne Meed Ward for moderating the presentation and Rosalind Minaji from the City of Burlington planning department for her attendance and comments._

_Our commitment is to build great buildings in great communities, and after listening to all of the comments and feedback, we are very pleased to be building in (Ward 2 – St. Luke’s Precinct) in the City of Burlington._

_We listened to all of you, and I am pleased to announce we will formally submit our new design and application in accordance with current zoning allowances (4 storeys of condos) in the spring of 2015._

_The ‘Saxony’ project will be a 4-storey classic condominium building, designed to reflect the rich and vibrant heritage of the community in the City of Burlington._

_Thanks again for your attendance and the great feedback!_

_Mr. Daniel Mclean_
_Landform Development Group Inc._
_sales@landformgroup.com_
_Copy: Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, City of Burlington_


Once again, kudos to Landform Group for showing respect to the community and responsible leadership amongst your peers and thanks to all those who attended to be counted and voice your opinions. It was everyone in the room – city, developer and residents – that showed that the development and intensification process can be productive and positive.

Visit the group’s website here: Burlington Downtown Core Residents Group

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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  1. Why is trying to develop a property in this city so difficult. If all builders had to just follow the zoning by-laws and the official plan. Council would make final decisions using them as a guide with no appeal process. Sadly in the real world the The Ontario Provincial Policy Statement dictates and sends mandates to all councilors and city planning staff to follow. The Province is ordering all this intensification and compact building designs. The city has to follow this Provincial guide, direction, call it what you will. They are supposed to do this by making sure the official plan and the zoning bylaws conform with Provincial Policy. So you have to ask is the city over zoning or under zoning properties? How is it all these big builders are getting to build these enormous towers that well exceed the zoning bylaws. The answer is money. The city knows that the Province will support these mega towers and if the city attempts to turn down the applications by big developers. They will appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board and win costing the taxpayers in this community a fortune. Now on the surface under zoning properties appears to make sense. A builder applies for a building 10 stories higher than permitted. They have the best planners money can buy and have a pretty good idea how tall they can stretch a building. The city planners are experts as well and also know what the province has in mind. This is where the money comes into the equation. The city will now sell, extort from the builder millions of dollars for the extra 10 stories and give it a nice name, let’s call it community benefits. The builder gives this money to the city (or do they?) to spend on various projects where the city sees fit. Which appears to benefit the people of Burlington. So ask yourself why would wealthy developers let themselves get extorted for millions of dollars by the city and not fight back claiming that the city is under zoning properties The answer is the city wants to take credit for squeezing the developers for millions and the developers want to appear to be paying huge to the city of Burlington paying these large benefits. Win win right the taxpayers are happy and developers are really happy. The city can boast how it extracted money from the builders on behalf of the taxpayers. Or did they? On the surface under zoning properties that the city knows it will allow bigger buildings appears to hit the builders hard.The reality is the community benefits are paid by you and I the sucker taxpayers. By the city under zoning all these properties, the developers underpaid and have saved millions and millions of dollars in property taxes, which are based on the 6 story value not the 20 story building that will be allowed. Will anything ever change, so that the taxes on these properties really reflect their value and not subsidized by us the taxpayers. The answer is NO! if the city tries to change the zoning to what and should be built there, to make sure the proper property taxes are paid, every Nimby in Burlington will be there opposed to it. If a property is going to have a 20 story building built on it.The zoning and the property taxes should reflect that value. Also the neighbors know what is coming, no surprises.. Now what should be built where and how high? That will make for a lively discussion on another night The community benefits scam was introduced by the Provincial Government, go figure..

  2. If they stick to a 4 story plan let them go ahead with all of the usual checks. Do not allow them to come back later with reasons to modify their plan and reintroduce 5 stories.

  3. I was unable to attend the mtg. between the Core Residents and the Landform group developers of a potential bldg on the site.
    They proposed a 5 story bldg. which is zoned for 4. To this the residents objected on the grounds it would set precedent for even higher future builds. I am so impressed at the integrity of the Landform group who have stated that based on residents’ comments they would resubmit a plan for 4 story’s. To me the bldg. is very attractive, and if the quality of the materials meets the same degree of excellence and meets zoning requirements then we have a winner. This meeting has shown what True Democracy is all about and we are all Winners for it. Thanks to the facilitation by Councillor Meed Ward, City Staff, the Landform Group, and the Core Residents for caring enough to Stand up for all of us. Very Well Done I am only sorry I was not there to witness it and look forward to the hand out material to read it and see it.

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