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Buiding irks Angus residents

In Essa
Jul 7th, 2010

Don’t think apartments belong in subdivisions
By Matthew Talbot Alliston Herald June 30 2010 — ANGUS – Judging by the reaction of Township of Essa citizens at a public meeting recently, apartment buildings in subdivisions are something of a sore point.
Mayor David Guergis explained that granting the apartment to developer Maple Lane Homes is in alignment with the province’s Places to Grow Act. Guergis said the act directs developers to create more densely populated subdivisions.
“The developers are using that. They are compacting. Our job is to get a reasonable compromise,” Guergis said. “The province is not supporting municipalities on this type of condensing.”
Yet Edmund Daniel from Maple Lane Homes insisted it was the council of the day who recommended an apartment be part of the plan.
“Council was interested in seeing an apartment in the corner,” he said.
Guergis countered, “It wouldn’t have been recommended from this council.”
The five-storey apartment is proposed as part of a Maple Lane Homes subdivision at 400 Centre Street in Angus where 26 link homes (joined through their foundations to speed up construction) are planned as well. The subdivision would be built on the southeast side of the intersection of Centre Street and the 5th Line on cleared land alongside a forest. The apartment itself would be directly on the corner of Centre and the 5th Line.
The building, with an 8,600-square-foot base and 80 parking spaces, would house 40, 700 to 800-square-foot apartments on floors two to five while the ground floor will house six retail shops.
Bob Smith, who lives on Michael Street in the subdivision to the west, was against Maple Lane’s plan. He said apartment buildings cause neighbourhoods to become rundown and “not very presentable.”
He said they are more suited to commercial and industrial areas, not single-family-home neighbourhoods.
Daniel said apartment buildings mixed with shops aren’t uncommon. He said it allows for life throughout the day and into the evening as people shop there and then the residents return home.
“The notion on an apartment building is practical,” he said, “and one we think would work on this corner.”
Gaetan David, who also lives on Michael Street, which is a Maple Lane subdivision, said a more dense population “affects the quality of life.”
Greg Williams, another Michael Street resident, said apartments target low-income families. There was concern that once Maple Lane left after construction the subdivision would fall into disrepair.
“We left where he lives and it’s not a slum,” Daniel said. “It’s not a slum.”
Guergis noted, “This developer has the right to develop his property. We do our job though the planning process – that there is as little impact on you as possible.”
One hiccup that emerged was an inadequacy with the township’s fire services when Guergis asked fire chief Paul Macdonald, “Are we prepared to deal with a five-storey building?”
Macdonald said the township’s current ladder truck isn’t sufficient, and can only reach a height of two to two-and-a-half storeys. A sufficient truck would come at an expense of about $500,000, he said.
Macdonald said the fire department could talk with the developer about cost sharing.
A public meeting is a way for the township to introduce a proposed plan of subdivision and gather comments from the public and other plan review agencies.
“What you see today may not be what comes out,” Guergis said. “That’s the point of a public meeting.”

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