Approved changes pave way for 45-unit townhouse development

Work is still underway to create a 45-unit townhouse development in Arthur.

The 4.94 acre parcel along Preston Street, owned by Farz Holdings Inc., is currently vacant. Although the property is zoned to allow townhouse development, the proponents, through planner Bruce Don­aldson, came to council looking for amendments that would take a twist on how the project is developed.

Developers are asking for relief from certain parts of the cluster townhouse provisions, include permission to have frontage on a private street. They also sought reduced parking requirements.

The Preston Street property is located near Arthur’s sewage treatment plant.

Mayor Mike Broomhead said it was interesting reading the information on the development because he had not realized the lay of the land at that location. He has been by the property a hundred times and had always thought it was a fairly flat piece of property.

Planner Linda Redmond said in general the planning department has no concerns with the application for the zoning amendment which would switch the land from R3(H) – Residential to R3-25(H) Residential and the amendment which would allow the development of the 45-unit townhouse project and eventual condominium application.

She said the holding symbol is there until services are available, but pointed out the R3 zoning already allows for a townhouse development on the site. “The use is permitted.”

She explained the reason for the amendment is more due to the manner in which it would be developed. She said the developer intends to sell the units off as condominiums, but in a freehold fashion. Even­tually, each owner would own not only the townhouse, but land attached to the unit, Redmond said.

She said because that is the intent, it means the units would need to be on a public road and they would be street townhouses.

However, the proponents do not want this as a public street, nor does the municipality really want to take it over as a public street. As a result, Redmond said the road would be one of the common elements of the condominium corporation, but the units would be treated in the same manner as street townhouses.

“The amendment allows them to be developed like street townhouses – but on a private road,” she said.  Street townhouses, she added, have different provisions and individual lot area requirements.

She said parking requirements are the same whether they are developed as street townhouses or as a cluster.

The second part of the amendment allows a slight re­duction in the overall lot area per unit, because some of the interior units do not quite meet the minimum lot areas.

As stated in her report, part of the reason for the minimum lot area for street townhouses is to give the owner adequate rear yard space.

In this case, Redmond said, that since it is being developed as a condominium, there is a fairly large common area – open spaces that can be used by all owners. Although a reduction is in the individual lot areas, it is more than made up for in the common area amenity.

The other reduction proponents are looking for, she said, is parking. As noted in previous developments, she said the parking bylaw specifies 1.5 parking spaces per unit. How­ever, the driveways cannot be considered as legal parking spaces.

Technically, she said, each unit has a garage and a driveway so there are two spots per unit. As a result, the proponents have provided a few visitor parking spots in the plan.

In the site specific plan, Redmond reduced the requirement to 1.25 parking spots per unit, which boils down to one visitor parking spot for every four units. Plus there is separate visitor parking, which Redmond considers important because it allows somewhere else visitors can park.

However, even at 1.25 parking spots per unit, she said said the current proposal is a bit short and might require one or two more parking spots.

She stressed that 1.25 parking spaces per unit is not uncommon.

“It’s quite normal.”

“I think it meets the intent of the bylaw.”

She said the proponents are looking for the amendment to go ahead with the final work on a site plan.

Once the units are built then the proponents would come back with a condominium applications.

Broomhead said he’s now had a closer look at the property and was interested how the proponents intended to deal with the issues.

Donaldson said the storm water drainage has been re­solved and there is a catchbasin on the southeast corner of the property. He felt there was lots of room to extend visitor parking as needed without any difficulty.

Donaldson said that compared to similar developments, this has 20 times the amount of open area or greenspace. He believes the three common open areas will be able to supplement the needs of the residents.

While he had the opportunity to speak before council, he noted that in December 2007, council allocated 25 units of sewage capacity towards the project for a six-month period.

An application to renew came before council in July this year.

He said his client intends to service the entire site, and hoped council would grant a sewage allocation request to cover all 45 units.

Broomhead said Donaldson and the proponent need to understand the allocation, ac­cording to municipal policy is on a first-come-first-serve basis. He said the municipality doesn’t want to be caught in a situation of providing allocation, then finding out the project is not going to proceed for a year-and-a-half.

Donaldson said the next step is for the creation of a map of the common elements and the private street. Further, there would be mapping of the storm drain and other issues to be resolved. At that time, he said the site plan agreement would be entered into.

“But I think they are anxious to proceed.”

Broomhead said he was not trying to sound discouraging.

He said the initial allocation was made to allow the proponent to get started. “But we have to have some kind of firm commitment … especially with the way the economic times are coming down.”

Donaldson said the project has moved ahead.

Broomhead however said something needs to be in writing on how the land ownership is switched over in the condominium agreement.

Donaldson said these will be freehold lots facing onto a private street. He said the intent is to create the new lots through part-lot control.

Broomhead said the township’s lawyer will want to know how it is being done.

“It wouldn’t hurt to have something our lawyer can look at,” Broomhead said.

Councillor John Matusinec asked if the private street is treated the same as the common lands, will costs be attributed to each of the units such as to keep the street in repair.

“Oh yes, most definitely” said Donaldson. He said that as well there would be costs to maintain the common elements of the property.

Redmond said it will function as though it is a traditional condominium development.

“The only difference here is that the person owns the unit and the lot the unit is on.”

Anything held in common is treated the same way.

As for the allocation, he did not believe council would be tied down at this point.

Though Donaldson stressed the proposal involved lots, Broomhead said that under the sewage allocation policies they are all considered as units.

Broomhead later said, “This is a good development and a good spot. It’s going to en­hance the village.”

He said he has seen communities where development has been in the wrong spot or the wrong development in the right spot.

“I think this will blend well with the area. It is good land  use planning.”