Planning Committee permits zoning amendment for FairTradeWorks development

Marmora and Lake - After listening to public input at its most recent planning meeting, the planning committee has made the decision to permit the re-zoning of two downtown properties, paving the way for a developer to build an 18-unit apartment complex.

A public meeting held July 2, 2019 saw about 25 community members in attendance along with planning staff from Hastings County and three representatives of the applicant, FairTradeWorks.

Attendees were invited to provide comment either in favour of or in opposition to FairTradeWorks’ application. FairTradeWorks requested an amendment to the zoning bylaw in regards to 25 and 29 Forsyth from Main Street Centre (MC) Zone to the Special Main Street Centre No. 4-h (MC 4-h) Zone.

Among the amendments to the zoning by-law were changes to the maximum building height (currently 12.2 metres) to allow for the building to be 14.5 metres tall, as well as changes to minimum landscaped open space, parking space requirements (1.28 spaces per dwelling unit down from 1.5), no commercial parking spaces, and minimum parking space length (5.5 meters down from six meters).

Several people in attendance spoke to the committee and voiced concerns about the proposed application, citing reasons such as parking and traffic congestion along Forsyth Street and Highway 7, too many residential buildings in the downtown, and not enough commercial space in the building. As well, residents worried the building wouldn’t fit into the landscape of the downtown core.

Residents also spoke in favour of the application, stating FairTradeWorks has done its due diligence by addressing concerns raised by the former council about parking and safety.

One local business owner suggested the community show more support toward FairTradeWorks and its efforts to invest in the community, reminding the committee this is the second attempt by the company to bring forth an application for 25 and 29 Forsyth Street. The first application was denied by council in November, 2018.

Mike Provost, Construction Manager for the Ontario branch of FairTradeWorks, spoke on behalf of the company and the application.

Provost said this building - the Lummiss Residence - will provide adequate parking on the first floor and a separate driveway for entrance and exit onto Madoc Street in order to alleviate congestion along Highway 7.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of managing concerns,” he told the planning committee, adding that this building is going to help renew growth and vibrancy in the community.

As for concerns with the height and aesthetics of the building’s design, Provost said every effort has been made to make sure the structure will fit well on Forsyth Street.

“I personally don’t see any issue with the height, it’s what will make the front facade stand out,” he said. “I tried to keep to contextual with the downtown core - a little more classic than the Bleeckers and more suitable to the downtown look.”

Director of Planning for Hastings County, Justin Harrow, agreed with Provost and added the application is consistent with the Official Plan and said the requested amendments aren’t out of the ordinary.

An official site plan agreement between the municipality and FairTradeWorks will ensure the developer follows through with its current proposal, he added. The agreement will come before council in the near future.

The planning committee voted unanimously in favour of the proposed bylaw amendment citing that the application meets the general intent and goals and policies of the Official Plan, and is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement.

Mayor Jan O’Neill commended FairTradeWorks on its efforts, stating, “I’d like to thank FairTradeWorks for submitting this application and for considering Marmora for positive development.”

Megan AbrahamComment