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'A square peg in a round hole' ?

Proposed infill development in established neighbourhood seen as potentially precedent setting for rest of the city
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Erecting a three-storey stacked townhouse development into an older Guelph neighbourhood populated by stately bungalows is like putting a “square peg into a round hole."

That was the message delivered by those opposed to the proposal to Guelph City Council Monday night at a planning meeting.

Granite Homes is seeking a zoning by-law amendment to permit the 34-unit development at 89 Beechwood Ave., located just north of Waterloo Avenue between the Hanlon Expressway and Edinburgh Road.

It is the former home of the Guelph Optimist Club.

But there were plenty of concerns expressed at Monday’s meeting, both by a well-organized neighbourhood group and from some members of council.

“Granite Homes is trying to put a square peg into a round hole,” said Sally Humphries, part of a 40-minute presentation by the Beechwood-Chadwick-Hearn Neighbourhood Group, which formed in opposition to the proposed development.

Coun. Phil Allt agreed.

“It’s the right proposal but at the wrong site,” Allt said.

The presentation by the neighbourhood group was a template for organized delegations before council: prepared, concise and with different members covering different areas of concern.

David Aston, a planner appearing on behalf of Granite Homes, explained the proposed development, which is seeking a different zoning for the roughly one-acre property and density and setback relief.

The proposal includes underground parking and four visitor parking spots above ground.

Neighbours feel the winding nearby streets will become parking spaces for those living in the proposed building.

Aston said the developer has already had one meeting with neighbours and is more than willing to hold further consultations, something city staff said it would help facilitate.

Neighbours are concerned about several things, including parking and traffic issues on the street, removal of healthy mature trees, the fact the building would block sightlines to the Howitt Park playground and that the building just doesn’t fit in with the older neighbourhood.

The neighbourhood group also raised the issue of another abandoned property just down the street that has been purchased and could see a development application come forward at some point.

“89 Beechwood should not be considered in isolation,” said Byron Cunningham, who stressed that the neighbourhood does support development on the site, just not one this large.

They would like to see one between six and 14 residential units. That's what would be allowed on that property if a city Official Plan Amendment currently harboured at the Ontario Municipal Board ever gets approved.

Coun. Karl Wettstein raised the point that these types of situations are happening all over the city – what kind of infill is appropriate for established neighbourhoods.

“This is very precedent setting,” Wettstein said.

Mayor Cam Guthrie also raised the point that current zoning on the property allows for a much taller building than three storeys, but not residential.

Council accepted the report and staff will now process it before coming back with a report to council along with a recommendation.

Staff will also look into the possibility of doing a traffic study.

The application could be altered along the way if the developer wished.

 



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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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