A piece of vacant land on Elmira’s west side slated for commercial development will now be predominantly residential, as Woolwich council this week approved the switch.
Nomadiq Elmira Towns Ltd. can now go ahead with the development of the 1.5-acre site at 15 Barnswallow Dr., which was originally slated for a one-level strip mall-type building. Instead, the location will be home to 45 stacked-townhouses along with six residential units above a much smaller ground-floor commercial space.
Meeting October 31, councillors gave the go-ahead to the necessary changes to the township’s official plan and zoning on the property.
In that, planning staff agreed with the applicant that the site was not viable for commercial development.
Township planner David Gundrum said the company had satisfactorily answered concerns raised at a public meeting last May when the application was first aired.
“In addressing council’s concerns from the public meeting regarding the proposed reduction in potential commercial space, the applicants have provided formal correspondence from two professional commercial leasing companies indicating that the suggested limit is appropriate for satisfying local market demand,” said Gundrum in his report to councillors.
“We have to put some confidence in what we’re reading,” he said, noting the letters from the two leasing firms was “a sufficient response to those concerns.” Gundrum added there were two nearby properties where commercial development is slated, both on the north side of Church Street.
Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who raised the issue at the original public meeting, said he was unconvinced by the argument, noting staff “just took their word” on the matter.
“Your answer was basically that planning staff just took their word and did not go beyond looking into whether or not the site was actually commercially viable. I find that hard to believe that a site like that wouldn’t be viable considering the amount of growth that we have.”
Other concerns raised by the public, including traffic, parking and stormwater runoff, were all addressed satisfactorily, Gundrum said.
On the traffic front, studies show there would be little impact and no changes to the existing situation – no traffic lights at the intersection, for instance.
Concerns about grading and the loss of privacy raised by residents of Bristow Creek Drive, where homes back onto the property, would be addressed in the site-plan stage, though that’s not a public process but rather negotiated between the developer and the township, Gundrum said.
“There’s a process to follow that will address those concerns and attempt to address those concerns.”
In another planning matter, council also approved a zone change to increase the manufacturing capabilities at the Tubeline Manufacturing Ltd. property, 6455 Reid Woods Dr. and 6919 Line 86, west of Elmira.
The decision removes the restrictions on building size and reduces the number of required parking spaces on the 18-acre site, which is zoned agricultural with site-specific zoning permitting the manufacturing of farm-related machinery.
Tubeline is looking to add a 103,000-square-foot building to the site, which is currently home to three smaller structures. As well, the amount of required parking it to be reduced to 140 from 280.