Council concerned over amendments to comprehensive zoning bylaw

MAPLETON – Proposed amendments to the comprehensive zoning bylaw affecting all lands in the township have some councillors and residents concerned about high density housing and overcrowding.

Among the list of more than 12 housekeeping amendments brought to a public meeting on Oct. 8, those that drew concern included: reductions in minimum lot area, frontage and interior side yard setbacks in residential zones, and minimum distances between townhouses and apartments.

According to county planning manager Linda Redmond, the amendments help meet a need for affordable housing opportunities and achieve some provincial growth plan targets by offering different lot sizes.

Amendments affecting residential lots include:

– R1B low density residential buildings – reducing the minimum lot area to 5,005 square feet from 7,000ft2 and lot frontage to 50ft from 66ft;

– R1C low density buildings – reducing minimum lot area to 4,000ft2 from 5,005ft2, and lot frontage to 40ft from 50ft;

– R2 medium density residential buildings – reducing the lot area to 4,000ft2 from 5,005ft2 and lot frontage to 40ft from 50ft;

– reducing the minimum distance between apartment building faces to 40ft; a minimum of 20ft between a face and a side of apartment buildings and a minimum of 10ft between sides of apartment buildings; and

– reducing to 40ft the minimum distance between townhouse block faces; reducing the minimum distance between any face of a townhouse block and the side of the same or another block to 20ft and reducing the minimum distance between sides of townhouse blocks to 10ft.

Redmond pointed out Mapleton has not seen many, if any, cluster townhouse development proposals.

“It applies to only those developments where you have a block, and you’re creating like a condo-type of scenario,” said Redmond.

Conversely, instead of placing a maximum building height on medium residential buildings, the proposed amendment would place a minimum height requirement of 20ft  “to encourage more than one storey,” the report states.

Councillor Michael Martin asked if the new minimums were suggestions or mandated by the province.

“What if we don’t want to become the next Waterloo with tiny little lots?” Martin asked.

“I understand the argument for intensification … but some people move out here …  because of the larger lot sizes, the small-town feel.”

Redmond said the county official plan contains a development density target of six units per acre.

“So when we get a plan of subdivision, we have to ensure that that density is being managed … that can happen by providing huge single family residential lots and apartment buildings, or townhouse blocks and smaller lots. There’s many ways to accommodate that density,” Redmond said.

Councillor Dennis Craven said, “Some of these things I’m a little uneasy about. But one thing I will not and cannot do is support 40-foot frontages … (it) is just going too small … as far as I’m concerned and we really don’t need to do that,”

While councillor Marlene Ottens also conceded she “wouldn’t want to live in a tight, little lot either,” she said she would support the reductions because housing affordability is an issue.

“If it requires smaller houses for some people to be able to live in Mapleton, then I am going to support that,” Ottens said.

Ahead of the public meeting, notices about the comprehensive zoning bylaw amendments were sent to property owners, agencies were given notice via mail or email, and public notices were published in the Wellington Advertiser and Community News in September.

Council received three letters against the amendments but no one at the public meeting spoke to the issue.

Martin asked whether there would be further public consultation on the matter, to which Redmond explained council was only required to hold one public meeting.

Ottens asked that the three letters submitted to council be read aloud.

Drayton residents June and David Ebertt wrote that they “object” to the reduction to the minimum distances between cluster townhouses.

“It would devalue our home and seems to be a situation that you and everyone on council or on a planning committee would object to as well if you lived here and invested everything you had,” the Ebertts wrote.

“I’d say it’s time to rethink this before Drayton is ruined like so many other towns.”

Ridgeview Drive residents Dahl Atin and Donna and Peter Fulcher also voiced concerns as townhouse owners.

“With future cluster townhouses to be built behind me, I find the proposed reduction of over 20 feet is unacceptable to the privacy and enjoyment of my rural location,” Atin wrote.

“… With anticipation the future development of townhouses behind this, this is a great concern,” the Fulchers wrote.

Redmond explained the townhouses identified in the letters are street townhouses, not clusters.

“They have different criteria, and there’s different requirements attached to them,” Redmond said.

Mapleton does not currently have cluster townhouses.

“The cluster development is when you have, a lot of people will call a content development. It doesn’t have to be a condo, but it’s where you drive into it, it’s a private road, and you have units within that,” Redmond said.

Councillor Paul Douglas said the concerned residents could have cluster townhouses built behind them, and asked how closely they would be allowed to be built.

“The rear yard setback kicks in at that point. So … it would be 20 feet from the property line to the building,” said Redmond. “That’s not changing; those are set.”

Accessory structures

A proposed amendment to increase accessory structure floor area or lot coverage also drew discussion.

The proposed increase is to permit a 2,000ft2 building with increments of 450ft2 – up from the current 1,000ft2 with additional increments of 450ft2 per acre.

Council approved receiving the proposed amendments for information, with the bylaw to be passed at a later date.