Central nixes rezoning ask for sixplex in subdivision

Neighbours applaud decision

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—The municipal council in Central Manitoulin turned down a rezoning request from a developer seeking to build a series of sixplex affordable housing units on property zoned for a maximum density of duplex buildings. The Anglin Subdivision has been the subject of two public meetings.

Although the motion “to allow for a site specific zoning amendment be given its first reading” was moved by Councillor Derek Stephens, who supported the development, and seconded by Councillor Alex Baran, “in order to allow debate on the issue,” the recorded vote saw only Councillor Stephens and Mayor Richard Stephens voting in favour.

“I know there have been concerns expressed by citizens in the area,” acknowledged Mayor Richard Stephens in opening the debate. “We have a developer who is willing to provide a facility that is needed in this community.”

“Central Manitoulin is one of the few places on the Island that is growing,” said Councillor Stephens. “I am in favour of this development. The developer is answering all of the questions raised.” Councillor Stephens said that drainage issues that have been raised are actually a municipal issue, and that he has received assurances that those issues can be adequately met. “Everybody is saying that we need senior friendly homes. With this development, businesses will expand, more young people will be employed,” said Councillor Stephens. “This is a good development for this community.”

Mayor Stephens noted that the town has received assurances that water drainage problems can be resolved.

“I am not opposed to development,” said Councillor Patricia MacDonald. “I think there are other options to development of these lots.” Councillor MacDonald pointed out that the property is already zoned for duplex development. “Half the number of units being proposed could still be constructed with duplexes instead of the six-plexes being proposed. I don’t know if this is a good fit given the opposition from ratepayers. There are more appropriate sites. I support development, just not development in that location.”

Ms. MacDonald said that she has researched the types of decisions rendered by the Ontario Municipal Board and that she believed it was in the best interest of the municipality to review its multi-residential zoning bylaws, especially in light of the new Manitoulin Official Plan. “I believe this issue should drive us to take a close look at that before we are reacting.”

Councillor Dale Scott said that he had also taken a close look at the proposal and that a number of people had called him to express their concerns. “I am not against development,” he said. “I think the town is at the edge of where development is going to have to take place. It is going to be needed.”

But when the majority of people within the designated area to be notified of the zoning change were opposed to that change taking place, “that is of concern to me,” he said. Councillor Scott suggested the rezoning would be “premature” and that it would be at least a year before the municipality was ready to look at its zoning policy. “We need to look at whether we want multiplexes, industry, manufacturing.”

Councillor Scott pointed out that the recommendation from the Manitoulin Planning Board suggested that the municipality should access how much the municipality wants that development and that it might not be the best policy to “mingle multiunit housing with single.”

Councillor Stephens rebutted that the developer’s decision on what to build was likely driven by what the market was seeking and that turning down the rezoning might amount to a lost opportunity for the municipality.

The debate took place with a significant number of people in the council chambers, most of whom appeared to be in attendance on this issue, but the crowd remained intent and quiet throughout the proceedings, although a number thanked the council for their decision as they left the chambers.