Residents still oppose St. Vincent apartments
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Jul 31, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Residents still oppose St. Vincent apartments

Stratford Gazette

Chet Greason

Residents who live near a proposed apartment redevelopment project on St. Vincent Street remain staunchly opposed.

The city originally rejected the zone change application by Pol Quality Homes for two apartment complexes on the grounds of the former Portia School. Area residents had plead with council to turn down the zone change due to the perceived increase in traffic and decrease in property values they assumed the apartments would cause.

The neighbouring Stackpole International manufacturing facility also took issue with the proposed development, arguing its close proximity to the property would lead to increased noise complaints directed at the factory by new residents.

Pol Quality Homes appealed the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), and during the hearing in June a revised site plan with smaller buildings and less units was introduced. The revised plan was met with tentative approval from Stackpole, which withdrew its opposition.

The OMB hearing resumes Oct. 7, and council must now decide whether to continue to oppose the proposal or accept the new design.

At council Monday, Nick and Elia Forte, who have lived in the neighbourhood for 18 years, addressed council separately.

Elia pointed out that, during her time spent living there, traffic has intensified and additional units will surely make it worse.

"It's too much for our neighbourhood," she said, citing property devaluation as a inevitable conclusion should the development go through.

"We're trying to keep the integrity of our neighbourhood."

Her husband Nick repeatedly used the phrase, "You have a plan. Stick to it."

He questioned the authority of the OMB itself, saying it had no connection to the community.

"If council's decisions can be made null and void (by the OMB), why even bother to have an elected council at all?" he asked.

He compared the situation to a similar rezoning issue currently happening on Brown Street that's also heading to the OMB. He also referenced R. Thomas Orr as an example of someone who stuck to his guns despite opposition to keeping the railway yards away from the lands along the Avon River.

Tim Sparks said reports regarding the redevelopment had grossly underestimated how traffic will change in the neighbourhood, while Rita Deoliveira stressed to council to think of the children, and the danger increased traffic poses to young people trying to cross the street.

Mayor Dan Mathieson noted a new document showing updated truck traffic stats for the area will soon be made available to the public once it's cleared by the Ministry of Transportation.

The comments made at Monday's meeting will be forwarded to the Planning and Heritage subcommittee, which will discuss the matter further.

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