Developers pitch new Wallings Way proposal to address neighbours' concerns
By Angelica Ingram and Jenn Watt
Updated: Sept. 9, 2016
Developers continued to encounter resistance at a second public meeting Sept. 6 for a condominium
development proposed for Wallings Road in Haliburton.
The application to amend a zoning bylaw for the lands of Vuksic from its current zoning of R1, urban residential type 1 zone, to R3, urban residential type 3 with exception, was met with hesitation from those who live down the road from the proposed site. If amended, the R3 zoning would permit the construction of a three-storey medium density dwelling with 21 units.
An initial meeting on Aug. 2 raised concerns such as decreasing area property values, lack of privacy, traffic issues and more.
Chairman of the meeting and Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey said the planning committee had received all the comments from the first public meeting and asked members of the public not to rehash the same comments, raising new issues only.
Municipal planner Patricia Martin said the planning committee inspected the site on Aug. 15 with Dysart's former public works director.
On Aug. 30, developer Pat Dubé of Greystone Construction submitted a revised site plan for Wallings Way, the name of the project, based on comments he heard at the Aug. 2 meeting.
“It certainly is a very controversial project in Haliburton and I'm sorry about that,” said Dubé. “But I did take your comments to heart and I went back to my drafting board.”
The new plan, which was created to address the impact on the Hawley property next door, includes flipping the building, reversing the location of the front door, and moving it closer to the MNRF property, which sits on the other side of the site.
As a result, the building is now 25 feet from the MNRF property line and almost 50 feet from the Hawleys' property, said Dubé.
The change also reduced the number of balconies on the Hawleys' side by three, which are 43 feet away from the neighbour's property, according to Martin's report.
While a vegetation buffer was previously proposed, the developer requested a privacy fence be allowed. It was later suggested the fence be six feet in height, the maximum allowed by the municipal bylaw.
In regards to traffic issues, the developer is proposing entry and exit from the current driveway and signage indicating no right hand turns out of the property onto Wallings Road, which is a loop road.
Additional signage will indicate the road beyond Wallings Way is open to local traffic only.
Dubé said they have agreed to widen the road in front of the building to allow for proper two-way traffic.
The developer said the condo will result in less traffic than the now-empty MNRF facility.
Neighbour Sean Hawley asked where the privacy fence would go, to which Dubé said as far down the property line as Hawley wanted.
Mike Rae asked if the project would require three-phase hydro, to which Dubé said not necessarily, and the condo currently being built in Minden will have an elevator but only requires one-phase hydro.
A few members of the public tried to express their support for the project, pointing to other area condo buildings such as Granite View, however, Fearrey requested only the proposed project and its planning issues be discussed.
Neighbour Jim Perog asked about the future of the MNRF property and the possibility of a condo building going there.
Fearrey said that property is not a part of this particular planning file.
Perog brought up the raw sewage plant near the high school on County Road 21, which he said emits odours.
In an interview with the Echo following the meeting, Fearrey said that he used to live on Wallings Road and disputed Perog's claim that he could smell odours from his home.
The property's owner Mike Vuksic told the paper that in his 39 years at that address he never smelled anything from the treatment plant. He plans to stay on Wallings Road – living in the new condo. “We love living in Haliburton. ... We don't want to move out of town,” he said.
In addition, Len Salvatori, who used to live two doors down from the property being discussed, told the paper he never smelled odours from his home either.
At the meeting, Hawley reiterated his concern about his property values and said he and his wife “had the biggest dog in this fight.”
Contacted by the Echo following the meeting, Dubé said he took great pride in the work he does in Haliburton County and was disheartened the harsh comments expressed by some.
“I'm not the kind of person that doesn't really care about what he does or the impact he has on a community because of a project. I do care. I take it very seriously,” he said.
This is the third project Dubé has taken on in the village including Granite View and Granite Cove and he said the work he has done so far demonstrates the quality and care Greystone takes.
“We're a known entity in Haliburton and that should bring some credibility to the whole argument of who we are and how we want to do business there,” he said.
To the concerns of dropping property values should a condo be built on the road, Dubé disputed this notion.
“I just don't buy the fact that property values decrease because there's a condominium in the neighbourhood,” he said. The condos would be priced higher than many of the other properties on the street, he said, which “automatically inflates the neighbourhood.”
In the past, Haliburton has suffered from a population drain to the city when retirees decide they want less responsibility for their homes and yard work and Dubé said building these types of dwellings keeps people in the community.
He referred to Granite View, the condo built a couple of years ago on Mountain Street in town, as an example. “What would the alternative be otherwise? These folks could look to go elsewhere,” he said.
“Wallings is a waterfront project and I feel it appeals to yet another sector of our seniors who are coming from a waterfront property and can no longer deal with it. Instead of moving to Bobcaygeon or Peterborough where there's a waterfront opportunity, they can stay in Haliburton and enjoy the rest of their retirement, as they deserve.”
The zoning decision is being deferred until the Oct. 3 public meeting, so that council can receive input from the municipal roads director and from the county prior to making a decision.