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Character area study not proceeding for Delaware-Seneca-Lakeshore School Community

I did not bring a motion to the July 6 Development & Infrastructure Committee requesting a Character Area Study for a variety of reasons explained in more detail below, including further discussion with staff on the best way forward, ongoing recuperation from my car accident, and July being a time many residents are away.

I spoke to city staff about residents’ concerns with minor developments in the Seneca/Delaware area that comply to the City’s zoning by-law and don’t require any notification to area residents.

It is staff’s advice that no further character area studies, or area-specific zoning reviews, are conducted. However, there are a range of other steps I will be pursuing with residents that may address the concerns faster than a study would. Those are detailed below.

Thank you for your input and understanding on this important matter.

The recommendation not to proceed with a character area study is based on two key reasons:

Staff have gained significant insight from the Roseland and Indian Point character area studies and learned that consensus is not a likely outcome of the planning process. They also learned that the types of planning tools that are available and appropriate to manage these neighbourhood development issues are limited. Even with modifications to existing policies and zoning, and changes to the development review process, it will not halt development. Also, the use of other tools such as an interim control by-law or demolition control, are not appropriate tools under the Planning Act to manage the issues at hand.

The Shoreacres study has only recently commenced and is currently drawing on both staff and financial resources. Outcomes of this study will likely be applicable to other established residential areas in the city. This was an element that staff were looking for when the consultant was retained. It would be beneficial to wait for the recommendations from this study prior to commencing with another.

Further, as a result of the Roseland and Indian Point Character Area study, several policy changes could also be applicable to other neighbourhoods.

Staff’s suggested approach moving forward is to examine the zoning in mature residential areas comprehensively, as part of a zoning review.

Walking Tour:

On June 18, I participated in a walkabout on Delaware and Seneca with neighbourhood residents. I saw the concerns first-hand and had an opportunity to see the homes that have been renovated and fit in nicely with the neighbourhood.

Next Steps:

I’ve outlined the major concerns to staff and I’m supportive of taking another approach if it yields us the same results. I’m also supportive of waiting for the Shoreacres study to be completed and apply the outcomes from that study to this area.

Here are the steps I will be taking when a building application comes forward in this area that complies with all existing zoning:

  1. Let residents know when a demolition application has been received by city staff. You will receive an email from me if you signed in at the neighbourhood meeting, or have emailed me regarding development in the area (either concerned or supportive – I have received both types of feedback). I will also post information on my website at www.ward2news.ca.

  2. Let residents know when a building permit for a new home has been received. Residents can contact my office for more information, and we will direct you to the appropriate staff person working on the file. Residents may also visit City Hall, Planning Counter, Second Floor, to view plans for new homes.

  3. Request the builder meet with adjacent homeowners to review the overall design the builder is proposing, placement and size of windows, design of home, garage feature, tree removal/retention, construction plan, and any other matters. My assistant, Georgie Gartside, will attend these meetings on my behalf over the summer. If necessary, I can undelegate the site plan process to come to committee and council for a vote, which would allow further public input. My hope, however, is that the voluntary process will get us the collaboration we are seeking. So far we have had good success with the voluntary approach, and I have already had one site meeting related to a new home proposal on Delaware. In this case the neighbours are supportive of the new construction.

  4. Working with our staff, explore options (through zoning, design guidelines, site plan control or other appropriate tools) to address resident concerns regarding: side windows and other privacy impacts to existing residents from new buildings; two-car garages on small lots that take up 50% or more of the first floor and leave room only for a door (but no first floor window); depth of new buildings extending into backyards (but that nevertheless conform to 25% lot coverage rules); tree protection, especially of city trees; ongoing construction impacts (noise from construction equipment and worker stereo systems, dust/mud on road, improperly fenced sites, blocking roads/sidewalks; other issues as they arise.

  5. Ensure appropriate controls are in place for construction management. For ongoing construction issues, please contact the following city departments:

  • Mud, dust, construction trucks, construction noise and any other construction site concerns – Call the City’s Planning & Building Department at 905-335-7642 to share your concerns so that site engineering staff can investigate.

  • Parking issues on the street or on the sidewalk – Call the City’s Parking Services Office at 905-335-7816 between 8:30am and 4:30pm or email parking@burlington.ca. After hours, please call Halton Regional Police at 905-878-5511 and ask for dispatch. Police will send a parking officer out.

City staff have filled in the potholes on Delaware and Seneca. There are a few other items that I committed to looking into and will provide answers soon.

Missed the June 2 Meeting?

Below is a link to the notes from the June 2 neighbourhood meeting, as well as my previous news article containing the PowerPoint presentation:

Notes – June 2 2015 Notes Delaware – Seneca

Link: http://ward2news.ca/development/residents-seek-character-study-for-delaware-seneca-lakeshore-school-community/

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.

What's your take?