Council rejects plan to add 8 new homes to development

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A proposal to add eight homes to a development in Beeton – about 40-minute north of Toronto – on a green space originally destined to be a parkette has been rejected.

The Town of New Tecumseth committee of the whole has recommended that the application from Far Sight Homes to rezone the property on Strachan Trail and provide a cash-in-lieu of parkland payment be turned down.

Farsight Homes representatives argue that additional park space is not required because the subdivision is already surrounded by 50 acres of green space and a trail system. Also, another 1.6-acre park is expected in the area.

Construction of the Beeton Creek at West Country subdivision is expected to be completed next fall.

“I have an appreciation that this subdivision has a bit of a history in terms of dragging on for some time,” Bob Schickedanz said at a public meeting in September. “I understand from the history . . . that its been the subject of some discussion and it was deemed that Block 142 is not required” for additional parkland.

If it is developed as proposed, Schickedanz says the home would not restrict access to the open space.

Also, he noted that there was a warning clause in purchasing agreements that said the area in question could become a park or “will remain with the developer for the purpose of residential lots.”

However, councillors disputed if the warning clause was included in purchase agreements.

New Tecumeth council could rubber stamp the decision on March 1 when they will review a legal opinion.

At least one councillor says she rejected the application because the town “has been owed the parkland since 2011.” Conditions listed in an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision for the subdivision includes two blocks of parkland dedicated to the town.

“This land is supposed to be parkland. I don’t believe it’s appropriate to leave this development with a deficit for parkland,” said Councillor Stephanie MacLellan. “This speaks directly to our official plan and how it states that we develop parks in open spaces within development” including a policy of putting parks beside storm-water management facilities.

“The parcel that we are speaking of today does all of those things set out in our official plan.”

MacLellan says the parcel of land is “situated perfectly” and already connects walkways, trails and the stormwater management pond and existing natural features.

“I find it odd that this (staff) report is telling council that we might have to find a piece of land to accomplish exactly what this piece of land already does.”

The subdivision agreement from 2015 gives council the option of developing the subject land as a parkette or “alternatively the town can obtain cash in lieu and the developer would retain the lot for residential purposes,” said Bruce Hoppe, the town’s general manager of infrastructure and development.

“It’s really up to council.”

Council will request an opinion from the town solicitor before making a final decision.

“I don’t want to walk into some kind of a legal mess,” said Councillor Sainsbury. “When you buy homes and they abut a farm . . . just because it’s open farmland and you walk your dog on it for five years doesn’t mean you have any claim to it.”

She questioned the value of eight lots.

“I think there’s a lot of assumptions from the offers of purchase to sale. I think there’s some legal issues involved.”