Town reaches agreement with residents on rezoning appeal

Council here has reached an agreement with a local couple on their appeal of a rezoning of part of the former Harriston Senior School property in Harriston.

At the Dec. 20 meeting, Minto council  approved a bylaw authorizing Mayor George Bridge and CAO Bill White to sign minutes of settlement with Kerri and Rolf Schuettel regarding their Ontario Municipal Board appeal of a bylaw 2016-048.

The bylaw, approved on June 21, was intended to allow developers of the former Harriston Senior School property to build additional townhouse units and provide a slightly smaller park area than originally proposed.

Developers Jeremy and Jeff Metzger applied to rezone a portion of the former school land, owned by the town and designated open space, to residential exception to allow the townhouses. On another portion of the property a proposed amendment would allow relief from the required rear yard setback and distance between buildings.

The first amendment was intended to facilitate the sale of the land by the town to the Metzgers for the purpose of constructing an additional four-plex as part of a planned “seniors” community.

The change would have added four units to the development, bringing the total to 23, but would have reduced by about one-third the area of a proposed park/stormwater management pond retained by the town in the original sale of the property.

However, at a June 7 public meeting, some residents who purchased homes fronting on George Street in the first stage of construction were upset to learn they may have a building rather than a park behind their homes. Other concerns included a plan to market the apartment complexes as rental units rather than condos, and the impact on area parking.

In a Dec. 21 press release the town stated the settlement, if approved by the Ontario Municipal Board, will affirm council’s decision on June 21, allowing a 23-unit townhouse development on the lands.  

The release states the settlement implements the “compromise solution” recommended by Minto staff and passed by council early last summer. Among other details, the settlement includes rules clarifying height, unit number and use of the turnaround within the future park.

“If the town reaches an agreement of purchase and sale with the developers of the townhouse project, a portion of the future park and storm pond not to be over 0.29 acres in area will be included in the development,” the release states.

Minutes of settlement will be presented to the Ontario Municipal Board by legal counsel. Settlements are final once the board approves. The town indicated the developers of the townhouse project have been advised of the minutes of settlement.

“The town agreed to a settlement allowing the project to go ahead as approved by council back in June,” stated Mayor George Bridge.

“We are hopeful the developer will proceed now that the appeal can be dismissed.”

After buying the lands on George Street in Harriston from the Upper Grand District School Board in 2012, the town sold most of the former school site to Jeff and Jeremy Metzger in 2013.

Since that time the school building was demolished and single family and semi-detached homes developed on George Street. The development includes the 23-unit townhouse project and a future subdivision off Lawrence Street.

The town still owns more than 1.2 acres of the land to be developed for a combined park and storm pond.