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Essa Woods development axed

In Barrie
Sep 22nd, 2010

By Leigh Blenkhorn Simcoe.com Sep 22, 2010
BARRIE – City council has voted down the proposed Essa Woods development.
Staff had recommended council deny the application for the planned 21- plus-acre development on Essa Road, up the hill from Bryne Drive.
Coun. Michael Prowse said he received more than 300 emails from concerned residents about the development, and is glad to see the proposal denied.
“People who have gotten involved have, for the most part, give constructive criticism to the application itself,” he said. “There are a few I would consider NIMBYs, but for the most part have had genuine concerns, and many of those concerns are echoed in this report.”
Prowse said the main concerns from residents were the density, the mass amount of people that would call the development home, and traffic issues.
Planners laid out the proposal, which included five high-rise apartments including three 25 storey high buildings, 31 townhouses and 145,500 square feet of commercial space, at a public meeting in June.
The staff report said the proposal did not comply with environmental guidelines determined the by the City of Barrie and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, and said there needed to be a reduction in the proposed residential densities.
While the city’s targeted intensities are 40 to 50 people per developable hectare in intensification corridors and 40 to 120 people in intensification nodes, the plan called for 243 people per hectare.
While council denied the proposal, Coun. Rod Jackson said high-density developments are the way of the future.
“We need more, higher density developments within the city. It helps with the tax base. It costs less to service higher density areas,” he said. “This just isn’t the spot. Without monumental change to the infrastructure of the area, it just can’t handle it.”
Council is now asking the developer to amend their application and come back with a revised plan.
Prowse said he hoped the developer would come back with a new plan.
“It doesn’t close the door forever on this development, nor do I necessarily think it should,” he said. “I think there is a great opportunity for a mixed use development.”
If the developer chooses to come back, the next step would be a second public meeting to be held most likely in 2011.

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