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Council raises concerns on revised Lockhart subdivision proposal

'It’s too big, too much, too crowded, too much alteration' says councillor about the proposed 27 one and two-storey homes in the Sandycove settlement area

Now that servicing has been extended along Lockhart Road west of 25 Sideroad, at least one ‘historic’ residential proposal has come back to Innisfil Council.

In a special public meeting of council on Wednesday night, under the Planning Act, MSS Lockhart Holdings Inc. brought forward a plan for a subdivision on a 2.22 hectare parcel of land at 893 and 911 Lockhart Road.

In 1999, the lands were zoned low density Residential, with a proposal for 12-15 detached homes.  A Holding provision was placed on the property, pending the availability of municipal water and wastewater servicing.

With that servicing now within 250 metres of the property, a proponent has come forward with a modified plan of the subdivision. While the Official Plan Designation of low-density Residential will remain unchanged, the developer has applied for a zoning bylaw amendment to allow for higher densities to be built.

The zoning bylaw amendment application heard on Wednesday asked that the property be rezoned from R1(H) and R1-3(H) -Exception, to R2(H) and R2(H)-Exception, and Open Space, allowing for smaller frontages and higher densities for the detached homes.

A total of 27 homes are being proposed for the subdivision.  Six of the lots will have a 15-metre frontage and 21 will have a frontage of 12 metres. One lot (number 26) would require the ‘Exception” zoning, with only 11.55 metres in frontage.

The homes, a mix of one-storey bungalows and two-storey dwellings, would be sited on an interior crescent road, with two exits onto Lockhart Road.

A large area towards the east of the property that touches on Lockhart and sits just west of the new road would be rezoned Open Space (OS) to serve as a stormwater management dry pond.

Steve Montgomery, town planner, provided the background information, and a summary of the comments received to date from the public. Those comments included concerns over the small size of the lots, the potential impact on the water table and well levels, the potential for impacts on drainage and increased flooding, as well as traffic, and noise.

The property is surrounded on three sides by the Sandycove Acres retirement community. To the north are a number of existing single-family homes on large lots, and the Sandycove Mall.

Montgomery noted that the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is still reviewing the Environmental Impact Study submitted by the developer, as well as stormwater management plans.

Town staff are also looking at the drainage easement, he said, and parkland. The developer is not proposing any parkland within the plan of subdivision.

“Staff can ask for five percent of the developable area of a subdivision for parkland,” noted Montgomery, but that would result in a parkette of only .11 hectares, “which is smaller than the normal parkette size recommended in the town’s official plan, which is .2 to .25 hectares.”

He noted that there is a 3.3-hectare community park planned for the Innis Village development, about 400 metres away on the east side of 25 Sideroad. The town can accept cash in lieu of parkland.

Kayly Robbins, of Jones Consulting Group, spoke in favour of the higher densities.

“It is in the municipal strategy of the town’s official plan,” said Robbins, and in keeping with provincial policy that encourages higher densities.

She noted that the minimum density as proposed by provincial policy is 10 units per hectare, up to a maximum of 13 units per hectare. The developer is asking for a zoning bylaw amendment to allow the highest possible density of 13 units, which would translate into 27 homes.

The availability of full municipal servicing allows for a higher-density, more compact development, she said, emphasizing proximity to planned amenities on 25 Sideroad. She noted that the homes would be within walking distance of a community park in the Innis Village subdivision planned for 2026.

Other than an endangered butternut tree on the property, Robbins suggested “no negative impacts to significant natural features are expected.” Compensation and offsetting for the tree are being proposed.

Ward 6 Councillor Carolyn Payne addressed the meeting. She said she had spoken with neighbouring Sandycove Acres residents, and “they’re not really happy with the idea… They’re okay with the subdivision, but maybe with less homes.”

She urged the developer to reduce the number of homes by six, and add a parkette to the plan. Lots 1-6, which back onto existing homes on Lockhart could be used for greenspace, Payne said. “You could put a little parkette there, and have a tree buffer.”

Payne argued that 400 metres to the nearest park, across 25 Sideroad, was too far a distance – especially for young children and seniors. “To me, that’s a danger right there,” she said.

Other issues identified included the impact on traffic. The traffic study submitted suggested 24-29 vehicles will be added to traffic flow; Payne argued the number was likely to be closer to 54 vehicles. “It’s just not good for the environment.”

Payne noted that with additional development planned for lands to the north, “there’s going to be a lot of traffic on Lockhart” – already a busy road during the summer months.

“My real concern is there are too many homes… and why are these homes being built so huge?” asked the councillor, noting that some houses will be two-storeys and up to nine metres in height. “It’s just not right for the location.”

Deputy Mayor Dan Davidson agreed, adding that intensification is a “huge concern for the neighbours in that area.”

His biggest concern was the stormwater management pond proposed, adjacent to an existing home on Lockhart. “We know they cause municipalities a lot of problems,” Davidson said.

He was also critical of the plan to go from 14 homes, on lots that matched the size of the existing neighbouring homes, to 27 homes on much narrower lots. “To me, it just doesn’t fit the neighbourhood,” Davidson said, especially the nearby Sandycove Retirement community and its retirees.

“I think we need to look at this a little more carefully.”

Coun. Donna Orsatti expressed concern over the location of the stormwater management pond, in an area where flooding is an annual problem, and questioned whether an existing drainage easement – to be located between lots 26 and 27 in the plan – would be negatively impacted.

She recommended increasing the size of the easement to help solve drainage issues for homes backing on the property, and providing a treed buffer between the new and the existing homes – a “courteous way to have a transition from a current development to another.”

Coun. Kenneth Fowler took exception to the comment that a community park would be “only 400 metres” from the subdivision – “forcing children and seniors to walk along busy Lockhart, which has no sidewalks, to a park that doesn’t exist.”

Fowler questioned the impact of construction on existing wells, and on groundwater recharge in a low-lying area.

“It’s too much for the space,” he concluded. “It’s too big, too much, too crowded, too much alteration.”

Coun. Rob Nicol called the location of the stormwater management pond “a concern,” along with the location of the road and potential impact on drainage. “I’m just concerned where we’re pushing the flood to,” he said.

Coun. Alex Waters also had questions about drainage and flagged the location of the  Stormwater Management pond, suggesting that it might be better located on lots 25, 26 and 27.

Waters asked for greenspace to be built into the design.

Going from a maximum of 15 homes to 27 homes will mean an increase in profits for the developer, the councillor pointed out, “but I see no community benefits to this – no greenspace.” Waters suggested that, since the developer needs allocation in the town’s water and wastewater systems, it would be appropriate to ask for community benefit. He asked for the subdivision design to be “a little more sustainable, a little more environmentally friendly, and maybe a little more green space.”

Manager of Land Use Planning Mary Nordstrom replied that since the developer is not asking for an official plan amendment or rezoning to other than low-density residential, the town can’t ask for community benefit – but can work with the developer to improve the sustainability of design.

Water and wastewater allocation are available within the current system, council was told, but the developer will have to join the Innisfil Developer’s Allocation Group, and agree to pay a share of the costs of infrastructure.

“There is capacity. It’s just to be eligible for that capacity, the developer would have to join the Innisfil Developers Allocation Group,” said Moore, and get approval from council.

A number of residents spoke at the virtual meeting.

Lockhart Road residents Lyndon and Lynn Brewer pointed out that the original subdivision proposed not only a smaller number of homes on private servicing but homes that “were in keeping with what was out front.”

Brewer noted that usually stormwater retention ponds are placed so that they don’t impact the existing residents. “This one, however, will,” he said, since it is located adjacent to his home.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Brewer said. “I’m a realist – but to jam this many homes in this area…”

Neighbour Christine Puma asked council to “reconsider the size and scale of this draft plan,” and stick to something closer to the original proposal. Her concerns ranged from loss in property value to more traffic, more noise, and increased flooding.

“We are the lowest point in this proposed site,” Puma said, which leads to flooding of her backyard every spring. She wondered what would happen when the impermeable area is increased, and also expressed concern over the potential impacts on her well water.

Puma called on the developer to create a “decent buffer” between the new and the existing homes, put in privacy fencing, and add a small park.

Reginald Ross expressed concerns that included increased flooding, impacts on the water table, privacy, and tree loss, and argued that the small lots and two-storey homes being proposed did not match the existing properties in the area.

While the homes are designed to attract younger families, Ross pointed out that the small backyards and lack of parkland would create issues for the new residents.

“There’s obviously some work we have to do,” said Ray Duhamel of Jones Consulting Group, responding to the comments. “Certainly, the developer doesn’t want to build a bigger pond than they are required to build,” but does need to meet current standards.

“It’s not a random blue blob,” Duhamel said, but is sited at the lowest point on the property. “It’s not a matter of just being able to pick it up and plunk it down in any old place.”

The proposed density fits with the town’s own official plan, and the size of the lots is consistent with the lots on municipal services, but Duhamel said, “Obviously we have more work to do.”

No decision on the application was made during the meeting. Council voted to receive the report and refer the comments back to staff for review and a recommendation at a future date.

“I think there’s a better balance that can be found, to keep everyone happy,” said Coun. Fowler at the end of the meeting.  “If we can tone it back a little bit, I think we can find a better balance.”

Comments can still be submitted to the town until council makes a decision. Contact the Clerk’s Office.

To view the documents, visit getinvolvedinnisfil.ca