Quality Homes planning Harriston townhouse project

A 23-unit townhouse development planned for the site of the former Harriston Senior School could proceed under new ownership.

Wellington North-based Quality Homes has placed a conditional offer on a portion of the site currently owned by J&J Metzger Construction.

The developers bought the property from Minto in 2013 and applied for site plan approval for a 23-unit townhouse project.

A dispute involving the developers, the town and neighbouring property owners over proposed changes to building setbacks and plans to build on land designated as parkland/stormwater management pond was ultimately settled by the Ontario Municipal Board.

Minutes of settlement signed between the town and appellants include a provision limiting the development to one storey.

Quality Homes plans to buy the project from the Metzgers, as well as the town-owned park/stormwater land and proceed with a townhouse development.

The company has requested site plan approval from council before it decides to waive conditions in its agreement of purchase and sale.

A staff report from CAO Bill White presented at the Dec. 19 council meeting indicates a site plan prepared by Triton Engineering was approved by the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority and has been reviewed by the town’s chief building official and public works staff.

The plan calls for 23 single-storey townhouse units with basements.

Some of the proposed two- and three-bedroom units will feature a loft, but White stated the units qualify as one-storey since a loft is only considered a second storey if its floor area exceeds 40 per cent of the main floor area (which also includes the area of an attached garage).

“The units have the look of one storey except for dormers,” the report notes.

Quality Homes vice president Howard Sher told council his the modular home company, which employs 130 people, is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary and is approaching 4,000 homes built.

“It’s been quite a while since we’ve endeavoured into real estate development and we have made that a feature of our growth process in 2018 and going forward and are delighted to do it locally,” said Sher.

He added the company plans to comply with all conditions in the minutes of settlement, but he asked council to amend a proposed site plan agreement to allow three years, rather than two, for project completion, “So as not to be under pressure should we get off to a slow start.”

However, a letter from George Street residents Rolf and Kerri Shuttel suggests the proposed site plan does not meet all the requirements of the terms of settlement or the town’s zoning bylaw.

The letter raises concerns about parking and a requirement for a “common amenity area” within the development.

“We believe we can comply with the minutes of settlement and comply with most, if not all, the concerns in the letter,” said White.

Mayor George Bridge said, “I’m totally excited about this project… we know we need this type of development in Harriston.”

Bridge said a lack of compact, accessible rental units has been a problem in Harriston, although such units are more available in Palmerston and Clifford.

“I don’t want to lose some of our seniors that haven’t been able to find housing,” said Bridge.

Council accepted White’s report and the letter from the Shuttels and approved a servicing and grading plan, subject to execution of a site plan agreement with the town.

The resolution included extending the project completion requirement to three years and indicated parking would be banned on both sides of George Street in the area of the development.