By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Opponents of large-scale residential redevelopment at the site of a former neighbourhood restaurant in the west end of Dundas are pointing to at least a dozen requested variances as a basis to deny the application.
City councillors on the planning committee have repeatedly expressed frustrations about development applications including lists of variances on top of rezoning amendments. It was a key reason for committee and council’s rejection of a rezoning application at nearby 24 Brock St. N.
But the planner behind the six-storey, 27-unit building with main floor commercial proposed for the former Tammy’s Place restaurant at 338 King St. W. said even the proposed zoning needs alterations because the bylaw is dated and doesn’t consider modern planning goals. And he argues it’s a much different scenario than 24 Brock.
Residents opposed to the plan. – many of whom were also part of the opposition to the Brock Street application – wasted no time in pointing to the variances dreaded by city councillors.
“Also requested are 13 variances (exceptions to regulations) which, if approved, will allow the building to be much bigger than RM3 zoning requirements,” states a notice circulated by a group calling itself HEARD. “This development will be over intensive and will not conform to the character of the community/neighbourhood.”
One neighbour said she was aware of at least 50 responses forwarded to city planning staff by the November 23 deadline for public submissions.
And councillor Russ Powers backed up the suggestions of strong opposition while updating Dundas Community Council on the application last week, just four days before the public submission deadline.
“The objections are flowing in,” Powers said.
But planning consultant John Ariens, working on behalf of property owner Scott Oldham, said he doesn’t consider requested alterations to the proposed zoning – such as zero rear yard setback – to be “variances” at all. He calls them modifications. And he said they’re required because of a dated Town of Dundas Zoning Bylaw. He suggests even the rezoning to permit medium to high residential density will not allow for the kind of development that should take place at the location of the former restaurant.
“A bylaw can’t continue to keep pace with modern development standards,” Ariens said.
He said one requested “modifications” is to bring the building up to the sidewalk, in what he called pedestrian friendly planning.
Another requested modification is to provide 28 parking spaces rather that the 36 required for 27 residential units and one commercial unit.
“We don’t have any visitor parking,” Ariens said. “There’s gazillions of spaces available.”
He said parking research, conducted after a May meeting of the Dundas Community Council raised issues about the parking plan, found plenty of on-street parking available in the area.
Ariens said being forced to work within planning guidelines in the Town of Dundas Official Plan is like “building a car to 1960 pollution standards.”
He said councillors on the planning committee have to step back and look at the proposal as a whole, and determine whether it fits in the area.
“If yes, it doesn’t matter how many modifications there are,” Ariens said.
He said this proposal is different from the one city council rejected at 24 Brock St. N., because the Brock proposal was clearly in the middle of a residential area.
“This is on a main arterial road – King Street,” Ariens said. “If we are serious about a transit supportive community, this is where we put higher density.”