Parking sparks concern about Drexler subdivision

“Not in my backyard” seemed to be the message area residents wanted to convey about a proposed subdivision in Rockwood.

At a public meeting on Sept. 21 Guelph-Eramosa council heard from three residents who were concerned that a new single-detached home condominium subdivision by Drexler Construction would mean a higher volume of traffic on Dowler Street in Rockwood. The proposed subdivision will be located between Dowler and the CN rail line. As proposed, the site would have eight units with four parking spots each, two in the garage and two in the driveway, with an additional four-visitor parking spots on the private condo corporation road for condo homeowners’ use.

However, current residents weren’t satisfied and shared concern about the possibility of more vehicles parking on Dowler Street.

Michele Dawe said the one-way street is unsafe with current traffic levels.

“You’re coming out (onto Wellington Road 27), you cannot see, you can’t see the cars coming south, you can’t see the cars going north,” because of street parking, Dawe said. She added cars frequently travel in the wrong direction on Dowler.

“They see no light but it doesn’t really matter,” she said.

Mayor Chris White outlined a few options for addressing the concerns.

“We can put up more signs but perhaps we look at banning parking on one side of Dowler to make it cleaner, that might be an option … and we’ll look at that,” White said. “We’re very careful when we move parking around to make sure it makes sense and if it’s not an issue we’re not going to ban it.”

For Don McGinnis, increased traffic was his big concern.

“With all the extra traffic that’s going to be there, you’ve got eight more lots, 16 more cars, that’s more potential for somebody to get killed on that corner,” he said. He also proposed a potential solution.

“To me, personally, I think that road was built backwards,” he said. “I think the one-way should be going to opposite way, coming out at the lights. I think that would be much safer than going in the lights and out into oncoming traffic.”

White said the proposal wasn’t a “bad idea” and that the township would make a consider the suggestion.

Dina Van Veen asked if overnight parking could be prohibited on Dowler.

“It will be the same as any other street in Rockwood,” White said. “We can’t pick and choose individual streets. It’s got to be fair across the board.”

Another aspect of the zoning bylaw amendment that sparked comment was the proposal to adjust hazard lines on the property to allow the eight units to be built.

Resident Fred Stahlbaum said he didn’t understand the hazard designation enough to support the development.

“The hazard zone is created for a number of reasons but one of them is to protect natural features,” township planning associate Kelsey Lang explained. “In this case it’s the wetland.”

She added hazard lands are given a blanket designation to act as a guideline so that when development is proposed the developer knows a complete survey is required to create an accurate hazard boundary.

“It’s up to the applicants to go out and do studies to figure out where the wetland actually starts and ends and then to determine an appropriate setback from that to make sure [the] feature is still protected,” Lang said.

White explained most of the area already had the appropriate zoning for the development and the hold was on it to ensure the appropriate surveys were completed.

Astrid Clos, a planning consultant for Drexler Construction, said the company has been working with the township since 2012 to prepare the application. She said she knows the township carefully considers parking so “we’ve been careful to make sure that’s been addressed.” She noted, “We’re here to answer any questions that council has and hear from the public and we’ll continue to work through these issues with staff and the condominium.”

The public meeting was jointly held by the township and Wellington County because Drexler Construction was required to apply for a zoning bylaw amendment from the township and a condominium agreement with county.

Council received the planning report and will take the public’s comments into consideration. On Oct. 19, staff will bring comments on the condominium agreement back to council for consideration to send to the county.