North Grenville staff is working on standardized design guidelines for new subdivisions being built in the Municipality.
The topic came up at the planning Council meeting of December 9, as Council considered two new subdivisions coming to the Municipality. Council passed a resolution to enter into a subdivision agreement with Westerra Homes for Pelton’s Corners Phase 2 off South Gower Drive and agreed to grant an extension for draft approval for the Comeau Subdivision which is an extension to the Oxford Heights Subdivision off Abbott Road.
According to staff both subdivisions have cash-in-lieu of parkland in their plans, something that Council feels should not happen moving forward. At a January public meeting, Council asked the developer of Pelton’s Corners Phase 2 to consider creating a pathway along the stormwater management pond that would connect Athabasca Way to Pelton’s Corners Road. When it was brought to staff for consideration, they raised some concerns, as parkland is not supposed to be tied to stormwater management features. Block 21, which is the only empty lot in Phase 2, is meant to allow for the expansion of the stormwater management pond needed to manage drainage of the new subdivision. Staff was also concerned about the winter maintenance and the fact that Pelton’s Corners Road doesn’t have sufficient pedestrian friendly linkages on it. “You’re putting people out onto a road that may not necessarily be safe,” said Senior Planner Amy Martin at the meeting.
It was decided that the developer would give the Municipality cash-in-lieu of parkland, at 5% of the value of the land, that could be invested in South Gower Park. The staff report also states that parkland in a rural subdivision like this isn’t as crucial with large estate lots that provide ample space for residents to enjoy the outdoors.
Councillor Kristin Strackerjan expressed her frustration at the cash-in-lieu of parkland deal that many developers have gotten in the past. “I think we’ve gone around in circles on this, I don’t know how many times, and every time we think we have a plan in place we get foiled by our own planning process in some way, shape or form,” she said. She also mentioned that having South Gower Park close by and the fact that there are large lots in this rural subdivision should not be an excuse for a lack of parkland.
While Amy says said she heard Councillor Strackerjan’s comments loud and clear, the dedication of parkland should have been considered much earlier in the planning process, as there is no space for even a parkette in the current subdivision design. “I would be very encouraged to say that if we were to develop some stronger guidelines for developers, creating essentially the handbook as to what we’d like to see in our subdivisions and create that holistic vision, that would be more appropriate moving forward,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman added that, as the liaison for planning and development, he has been asking for subdivision design guidelines since this council was elected two years ago. While nothing has happened, the Deputy Mayor said that Amy has now taken on the project full tilt, and he hopes to see a lot coming forward in the new year. “I’m looking forward to an actual design plan for North Grenville when it comes to subdivisions, whether they’re commercial or whether they’re residential, so that developers have a guideline that they know way ahead of time when they buy the land exactly what we’re looking for.”
Councillor John Barclay agreed that further discussion about these design guidelines is long overdue. He said that they should be looking at common space in parks or parkettes and also connectivity. “I’d say connectivity is really important to this council in that we want subdivisions to have pedestrian linkages.”
Owner of Westerra Homes, Robert Noseworthy said the North Grenville Home Builders Association is aggressively looking for guidelines when it comes to developing subdivisions in the Municipality. “We want those guidelines in our subdivisions because we want certainty,” he said. “We want to know what we’re getting into before we get into it.”
Deputy Mayor McManaman assured council that the process to get these guidelines in place is underway. “I’m sure Amy is going to do a wonderful job and we’re going to have lots of people involved in the consultations with this with ideas and suggestions, just like we’re doing with the CIP program,” he said. “We’re keeping her busy.”