Highdensity housing shot down

Norfolk council heard loud and clear this week that residents in neighbourhoods with single-family dwellings don’t want to live next to high-density subdivisions featuring row housing and condominiums.This week, Simcoe residents in the area of Thomson Road and Lee Avenue stated their objections in no uncertain terms to a subdivision proposal on five acres of forested land at the west end of South Drive.The Bremont Corporation proposal contained 50 townhouses along with six four-plexes for a total of 74 multi-residential dwellings. The proposed height of some townhouses was 11 metres – the maximum for a residential dwelling in Norfolk.“They want to create a wall of three-storey townhouses that Donald Trump would be proud of,” Brian Binks of Thomson Road told council Tuesday.“Do you know how high 11 metres is? This does not fit our neighbourhood. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the City of Toronto.”Proposals for tall housing next to low-rise neighbourhoods usually generate concerns over backyard privacy and shadowing. Residents crowding the council chamber at Governor Simcoe Square Tuesday reiterated these concerns.Norfolk planning staff and the consultant speaking on behalf of Bremont Corporation recommended a deferral so the application could be modified.Windham Coun. Chris Van Paassen supported this. He said council and the community might be pleasantly surprised if Bremont were allowed to re-think its position.“We are trying to be fair to both sides,” Van Paassen said. “I’m not choosing one side over the other. I will not accept the application as is, but let’s give them a chance to work through this.”Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus countered that the proposal needs more than a few adjustments.“I think the applicant and the neighbours are too far apart,” Columbus said. “I would like this reduced by about 50 per cent before I support it.”In the end, the application was turned down in an 8-1 vote.Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp expressed surprise that Norfolk can devote so much staff time and tax money to formulating official plans and zoning bylaws only to have developers step forward with proposals that radically challenge the county’s planning objectives.The land in question is zoned R-1 for single-family dwellings. The developer wanted it rezoned R-4 for high-density housing.Chopp noted that the developer’s application represents a significant deviation from the county’s vision for this part of Simcoe.“The concern I’m hearing is that it’s not an 11-metre home,” Chopp said. “It’s an 11-metre wall (of homes).”It was a chaotic scene in the council chamber Tuesday prior to the start of the public meeting.Not only were there two high-profile, contentious development applications on the agenda – the other was a proposed 36-unit townhouse development on the front lawn of the former Clonmel Estate in Port Dover – a number of people attended from across Norfolk to receive county grant checks for worthy projects and community festivals.It was standing-room-only in the council chamber around 5 p.m. Tuesday. With so many in attendance, staff set up chairs and a TV screen in a committee room to accommodate the overflow crowd.“We have never had this many people in the council chamber in the short time I’ve been in office,” said Simcoe Coun. Ian Rabbitts, who greeted many of the Simcoe residents on the way out after the Bremont decision.According to the Norfolk staff report, sponsors of the Bremont proposal were William and Jenny Smith.MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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