Wellesley residents voice opposition to proposed townhouse development

A proposal to build a stacked townhouse development in Wellesley got a rough ride Tuesday night as opponents packed into township council chambers.

Bradley & Company Inc. is seeking a zoning change to permit a 12-unit development on a site at 1060 Queen’s Bush Rd. This week’s public meeting laid out details of the project, including a request for reduced setbacks to allow construction on the property, which is less than half an acre in size.

The site would include just 18 parking spots.

Township planner Tim Van Hinte noted municipalities are required to offer a mix of housing and higher densities of land use under provincial regulations. Likewise, some 14 per cent of new growth each year has to be intensification in existing built-up areas.

“When you intensify property, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is going to be built there that is exactly the same thing as everything around it, but it does have to be compatible,” he said.

Most of those speaking Tuesday night or who submitted written comments urged the township to turn down the proposal.

“When I first heard there was going to be housing, and that was a year ago, I thought, ‘we need housing,’ so I was thinking a triplex and yes, that’s the kind of housing we need,” said Grace Neeb, a Wellesley resident. She voiced concerns with traffic, congestion and safety at the site, which is across the street from a public school, and the precedent that would be set by allowing the project to go ahead.

Neil Lackey also spoke against the development in its current form.

“How will overnight visitor parking be accommodated? If we expect these people to work, and we don’t have public transit here, two workers per household, I think the average is two-point-something, two vehicles – 12 units, 24 parking spaces. So, the plan doesn’t look like it’s going to accommodate the people it’s built for,” he said.

He advocated for fewer units, more parking spaces, and that the developer should be required to build with sustainability in mind by providing fossil-fuel-free heating and cooling, and capacity to charge at least one electric vehicle per unit. He also advocated that the units be family friendly and affordable.

Other speakers were concerned about runoff from the paved area and the possibility of overflowing on-street parking into nearby roads. They also advocated for provisions to ensure the property is kept up.

Kevin Thomason of the Grand River Environmental Network applauded the township for considering a project that he said has potential to lead the way in creating sustainable, complete communities.

“This project will set the standards and guide significant amounts of future development in the township. Be ambitious and realize your decisions can set the tone and impact residents and our entire community for generations,” he said.

Douglas Stewart, a planner retained by the applicant, said the company is willing to listen to public input, and called the project a good use of the land.

“This property in our opinion is underutilized,” he said. “Decisions should be made on policy and land-use criteria and not emotion.”

He said the proposal meets all the township’s requirements for the zoning, but the two key exemption requests are for the setback allowance on the front and side of the property, which he says are acceptable for the project.

Asked by councillors about affordability, Stewart said that wasn’t part of the equation just now.

“I’ve not said this is affordable, we’re not at that point. The point of this is we’re providing a form of housing that is not available today in Wellesley. And it’s a form that would be perfect for empty-nesters, seniors and young families.”

The plan is for the complex to be a condominium, though no prices have yet been set for the units, he said.

In terms of fitting the complex into the character of the neighbourhood, Stewart said the applicant would take the meeting’s comments into consideration, and that township staff would be able to have some input, though the amount of control of municipalities has been recently reduced in provincial planning legislation.

He added that the developer is a Wellesley resident and will want the project to fit in.

This week’s meeting was for information only, and no decisions were made. Council will see a report at a later date after planning staff review submissions and comments before forming a recommendation.

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