Carleton Place Mayor responds on Allan Street development

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Posted on: November 19, 2019

Based on reader interest and comments, Hometown News put a few questions to Carleton Place Mayor Doug Black regarding the recent developments (or more accurately non-developments) on an older neighbourhood location known as 50 Allan Street. 

To recap the history of this issue, in 2013 a local resident, Cheryl Batten entered into negotiations to purchase a property from the town that used to host the local curling rink.  She also purchased several lots around the town’s holdings to create a suitable sized footprint for a multi-residential building.  She submitted conceptual plans and drawings to town staff before finalizing the offer.  Those plans called for a 4-storey 36-unit condo/apartment structure with underground parking.  The purchase agreement with the town and surrounding property owners was completed.  In 2018 when a full development application was submitted and public comment was requested, neighours in the immediate area were united in their opposition against the project’s size.  In the fall of that year, council voted to deny the application.  Batten appealed that decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and their ruling which came in the spring this year supported the town’s decision.  In October Batten brought a revised plan to the town which cut the building down to 3 floors but council refused to discuss it because after the LPAT ruling they enacted an interim control bylaw (ICB) which prohibited buildings in certain older areas from exceeding 28’ in height.

During that meeting, held on November 12, council members were silent on their refusal to lift the bylaw restrictions and Batten, who was in attendance to answer questions, stormed out in anger. 

We put several questions in writing to the mayor and he has provided his response.  The questions were;

  • Do you think Ms Batten was treated fairly on Tuesday evening (Nov 12)?
  • Why didn’t anyone on council or staff ask if there was any way she could reduce the building’s height to comply with the ICB?
  • Do you think Ms Batten was misled in 2013 regarding the number of units and size of the building she could erect on Allan Street?
  • Is the town prepared to buy back their property as per the original sale agreement?
  • If so, is the town prepared to cover Ms. Batten’s application costs to date?
  • Ms Batten has repeatedly said she is willing to pay for infrastructure upgrades on Allan St beyond her responsibility.  If she now refused, is the town able and willing to provide the required services to her property line at the town’s expense?
  • Why were exceptions made for conditions on the Beckwith Street building (next to the farmer’s market) in terms of setback and parking requirements, but no exceptions seem to be on the table for Ms Batten?
  • Other neighbourhoods in CP have had to deal with oversized buildings in single-family home areas (Bridge St next to Carambeck and George Street) for example, why is Allan Street so special that it deserves all this protection?

This was the mayor’s unedited response;

The Tribunal (LPAT) stated that the original DP3 proposal for a 4-storey apartment building simply does not fit in the area and does not complement the area as required. To that end, council had closed Mrs. Batten’s DP3 application for a 4-storey building for this site.

To ensure consistency in our future council decision making, we implemented an Interim Control Bylaw (ICB) for the entire older section of Carleton Place consisting of amongst other criteria, a height limit of 28 feet. Compatibility to the neighbourhood remains a significant component to protect the older neighbourhoods from over-development.

Mrs. Batten undertook extensive discussions with staff on October 24th during a pre-consultation meeting and was made aware of the height restriction.  Despite this understanding, council agreed to allow Mrs. Batten to present to council and the public on November 12th. With a pending Open House on December 4th for the Interim Control By-law study, Council was in no position to circumvent this public process. There was no staff recommendation nor could council introduce a motion to a project that had no application. Having said that, I believe Council will accommodate and waive a portion of the Development Permit fees should Mrs. Batten submit a new application for Allan Street. Contained within the staff report is a list of these concessions supported by staff. Application costs are borne by the developer and they are not guaranteed a successful outcome.

I would like to add that our proposed position on cost share distribution for the project has been discussed with Mrs. Batten and we are under the impression there is a general consensus between both parties.  I believe the current basis for proposed cost sharing represents a fair distribution of costs and do not see any reasoning for the Town to fund portions of the Developer’s share. 

Your question with reference to other neighbourhood development (beside market square) is an interesting observation. Variances in regard to setbacks and frontage would have been accommodated for 50 Allan Street.  These were not the issues that denied the application.  The reason for denial was compatibility with the neighbourhood as mentioned in my opening paragraph.  In the case of 11 Beckwith Street, the neighbourhood did not have a problem with the proposal.  It is across the street from commercial properties (on Lake & Beckwith), had the rail trail directly behind it, and matched the height of the Grand Hotel with streets that didn’t require widening.  Compatibility was not a problem. 

Other developments such as George Street are a townhouse blocks.  A townhouse block could have been accommodated on Allan Street without a Class 3 application.  The developer wanted more density than that.  The apartment building off of Bridge Street (next to Carambeck community centre) is only 20 units and 2-storeys in height, as well as the building off of Edmund Street.  The total site at the Carambeck property is much larger than that of 50 Allan Street, the buildings are farther off the road, have no shadowing impact and do not have single family homes within 150 m of them.  Not only were they were built before the interim control by-law, but they are outside of the by-law zone. The properties are not comparable.

In conclusion, these most recent discussions have been the first with her since the commencement of the LPAT hearing.

I can clearly state council is in favour of an appropriate development on Allan Street and look forward to working with Mrs. Batten to achieve this end. 

Mayor Doug Black

Article by Brian Turner