Council turns down revised plan for Main Street E. apartment building

KINGSVILLE — Kingsville council has rejected a zoning amendment which would allow a developer to build a 22-unit apartment building at 183 Main St. E. but still save a historical home threatened with demolition.

The latest proposal by Brotto Family Holdings would downsize the proposed apartment building from six storeys to three, reduce the number of units from 28 to 22 and eliminate plans for five additional townhouses.Council voted 4-2 against the zoning amendment.

For many of the councillors opposed to the amendment, increases in traffic flows along Main Street was a main concern — despite comments by director of planning Robert Brown that studies show there would be little impact on traffic.

“We’ve been told the traffic on Main Street continues to operate at an acceptable level … the general public, the folks using that corridor every day, have come to determine for Kingsville (the level of traffic) is not acceptable,” said Coun. Laura Lucier.

Coun. Kimberly DeYong said she was “pleased” the developer was prepared to preserve the home, but felt “this kind of an amendment requires a higher standard and planning justification.”

She said there was not adequate buffering for the home at 183 Main St. E. or the neighbouring home to the west.

Brown said there was a need to increase Kingsville housing stock, but DeYong said council has approved several similar developments.

“So how many do we have to approve before we say we have enough?” she said.

“It’s important for me to say it’s not the development itself I’m opposed to … it’s the where and I don’t think the justification is there for this. The specific nature of this development is not appropriate,” she said.

People don’t like it, but that’s the future. We have to wrap our heads around it.

Lucier, DeYong and councillors Larry Patterson and Tony Gaffan voted against the amendment while Coun. Tom Neufeld and Deputy Mayor Gord Queen voted in favour. Mayor Nelson Santos abstained when it became clear the amendment was going to be defeated

.Neufeld said the scaled-down project was in keeping with provincial policies designed to increase population densities in downtown cores.

“People don’t like it, but that’s the future. We have to wrap our heads around it,” he said.

Given provincial policies, Neufeld said, it would be “a waste of taxpayers’ money” if the town was forced to defend its decision before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

Queen said he approved the amendment because it guarantees saving the nearly century-old home from demolition.

Town council was told the developer could appeal the decision to LPAT and ask that the original proposal — the one calling for the home’s demolition — be approved.

Harry Froussios, planning consultant for Brotto Family Holdings, said there were at least two revisions to the original plan that called for a six-storey building and five accompanying townhouses.

“We’re retaining the single-detached dwelling which was important to the public; that’s being retained and preserved through this process as well as severing off (and selling) the property to ensure it’s in the hands of someone who will maintain it,” he said.

Anne Marie Lemire, whose heritage-designated home is immediately west of 183 Main St. East, said COVID-19 and the ban on large gatherings has prevented council from understanding the true scope of local opposition to the Brotto proposal.

She said 2,573 residents signed an online petition against the proposal and another 450 signed an in-person petition.

“I really feel the extra time for residents to respond and engage would have helpful and maybe essential,” she said.

Lemire said the town’s heritage committee was not consulted prior to Brown drafting his report supporting the Brotto amended plan.

“I feel at the very least they should have asked the experts in our area and that would have been the heritage committee…. The fact that was omitted seems to call into question … transparency.”

Letters filed with Brown’s report show the heritage committee felt the heritage value of the home will be devalued if a condo was built behind it.

Lemire said the condo development would be close to her lot line and affect her and her family’s enjoyment of their home.

“We don’t want to move,” she said.

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