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Guelph Neighbourhood Against Development, Despite Downsize

  • 05/31/18
  • |          Guelph

Group of residents say proposed Beechwood townhouse project still too big

Revised plans for a proposed townhouse development on Beechwood Avenue have been submitted to the city — however, some neighbouring residents feel the changes are not enough.

First heard by council in September, Granite Homes had proposed to construct 34 residential townhouses at 89 Beechwood Ave., the site of the former Optimist Club, comprised of two three-storey back-to-back clusters.

Now, according to a new filing with the city, that number has been reduced, with 23 townhouses proposed for the property.

The size of the proposed townhouses has also shrunk, with seven now standing at two storeys. The shorter townhouses, according to the revised application notice, would front onto Beechwood, while the taller three-storey units would be at the rear of the property.

“The revised plan is a significant reduction in the number of units proposed, resulting in a plan with less of an impact on the surrounding neighbourhood, while introducing additional housing choice to the neighbourhood and the City of Guelph,” the revised application reads.

With fewer units on the property, the developer is no longer requesting a bylaw exemption for property density, as it had with the original application.

Where will the cars go?

Another change to the proposal is how vehicles would park on site. The original proposal called for 57 parking spaces — 54 for residents, three for visitors — to be underground, along with another four visitor spots above ground.

Now, the proposal calls for one-car driveways for each of the seven Beechwood-facing units, along with one-car garages for those units. As for the units at the rear of the property, there is a proposed 30-spot parking lot between the two blocks, with 27 spots reserved for residents and another three for visitors.

Another document submitted to the city, alongside the revised application, is a traffic study for the area. Among the main concerns raised during the September public meeting on the file was that adding the townhouses to Beechwood would cause traffic chaos for residents.

However, the study, prepared by Kitchener-based Salvini Consulting, says that this would not be the case.

According to the report, Beechwood would be able to handle the extra traffic, with Salvini citing the property’s past use.

“The previous use of the site by the Guelph Optimist Club would have generated event-based traffic patterns where most cars arrive in the hour leading up to an event and depart in the hour following,” the report’s summary reads, later adding that less than half of peak-hour traffic from the former Optimist Club would be generated.

“The daily volumes on Beechwood Avenue with the additional traffic from the subject site would not reach or exceed the design volume for a local road.”

The study, taken over the course of Valentine’s Day this year at Beechwood’s intersection with Waterloo Avenue, noted the busiest time for traffic in the area was between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., “presumably related to an event at the Ismailia Centre that evening.”

However, Hollidge says this could be read as being a one-time event, when it happens much more regularly.

“This reference could be wrongfully interpreted by council as a special event when the reality is that intensive traffic and parking on both sides of the street takes place every evening any time between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. for over 70% of Beechwood Avenue,” she said.

“This fact is well documented in drone footage taken throughout the month of August 2017 and shown to city council on September 11.”

However, a group of local residents say that the site should be graded based on newly adopted city policies.

“Unfortunately, we cannot support this revised application that was shared with us in April,” Sheila Hollidge, speaking on behalf of the Beechwood Chadwick Hearn Neighbourhood Association, said in an emailed statement to the Mercury Tribune.

“OPA 48 was passed by the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) last October and would allow 15-35 units per hectare, which would mean six to 14 units on this property. Our neighbourhood association supports OPA 48, which is the unified vision of both the city council and our community.”

Approved by the Ontario Municipal Board — since renamed the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal — in October, official plan amendment 48 establishes population densities and land uses for the city.

Hollidge also raised concerns that the study did not take all traffic into effect, saying traffic also comes into the neighbourhood off of Edinbugh Road South and Paisley Road, cutting down onto Waterloo.

“Based on the current traffic patterns and parking in our area we have legitimate concerns about community safety.”

The report also mentions the former Shortreed Paper property at 103 Beechwood, which was sold last year, saying it “could be redeveloped,” but that it is currently zoned for a limited amount of office and residential usage.

“If the site were proposed for residential townhouse uses similar to the subject proposal, a zone change application would be required,” the report reads.

“There is no active development application associated with this property.”

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