Tensions were high at city hall during a site plan control meeting Tuesday dealing with the former Alma College site.
Some residents on Moore and McIntyre streets said they’re concerned they will lose sunlight if Patriot Properties is allowed to build three apartment buildings despite a shadow study concluding it wouldn’t be an issue.
One resident said there would be damage to the roofs of the houses in the winter because snow wouldn’t melt properly without sunshine.
The highest apartment building would be nine storeys with the other two eight and seven storeys.
St. Thomas resident Ed Vandermaarel, an architect by trade and heritage consultant, said he’s pro development but is concerned with the height of the proposed apartment buildings.
“It doesn’t make sense to me, in the city of St. Thomas, we should have seven-, eight- and nine-storey tall buildings,” Vandermaarel said.
Developer Michael Loewith of Patriot Properties said it’s important to hear what the residents near the development think.
“It’s a big project,” he said. “It has to work for us as developers and owners and it has to work for the community and the people living around the development.”
Alma College, all-girls school for more than 100 years, closed in 1988. The school was burned down by two teenage boys in 2008 after an Ontario Municipal Board (now Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) order was placed on the property that required a replica facade to be built with any redevelopment.
In September, city council approved making an application to remove the order so the developer could move forward with the development without a replica facade. Patriot Properties is proposing a commemorative spire instead.
Traffic was another issue residents brought up at the meeting because the intersection of Moore and McIntyre streets was not included in the traffic study, and some residents expressed concerns there would be too many vehicles making their way through the intersection.
Some residents were upset to learn from Loewith at the meeting it would be a private community; they’d been under the impression visitors would be allowed on the site.
“I don’t know if that was ever the intention,” Loewith said. “It’s a private community.”
St. Thomas resident Sue Fortin-Smith said she had more questions after the meeting than she did before.
“New information seems to come into play. All of a sudden we have like a gated community, a private community,” she said. “The gully and the amphitheatre, it would appear that it isn’t going to be open to the public.”
Loewith said he’s hoping everything, including the removal of the order, is dealt with so shovels can be in the ground by late winter or early spring.
Patriot Properties will make more submissions to the site plan control committee before the committee makes recommendations to council.