Following a heated discussion at a Feb. 24 meeting of Smiths Falls town council, an Ottawa-based developer threatened to cancel a 20-unit town home project altogether.
After a long council discussion over a proposal to share the cost of a new sidewalk between the town and the developer, representatives of Kevlar Developments stood up and threatened to pull the project.
“We came to town to get a project that you desperately need and you come here just to have it changed again and again,” Kevlar owner Kevin Mulligan said. “If that’s the way it’s going to work, we’re not going to be doing business here.”
Senior planner Karl Grenke presented an update on the Kevlar project at the Feb. 24 meeting.
Councillors were in favour of the proposed site plan for 20 town homes, except for the proposed 50 per cent cost sharing of the sidewalk in front. To build the sidewalk connecting Lee Avenue with Abbott Street will cost $25,000.
“Kevlar purchased the property from town of Smiths Falls for $120,000,” Planning Consultant Christine McCuaig said at the Feb. 18 meeting. “It’s a sidewalk to nowhere and a significant cost to the developer.”
Kevlar say they aren’t willing to cover the full cost of a sidewalk “leading to nowhere” as the previous developments near Ferrara Drive were built without them.
“We can’t pass that bylaw if half of us don’t want the sidewalk,” Councillor Niki Dwyer said.
McCuaig clarified that the sidewalk was only included in the site plan after it was requested by town staff.
Council discussed concerns over the cost-sharing proposal at last week’s meeting on Feb. 18.
“It’s a matter of precedent that concerns me. We’re a very affordable community to invest in in terms of developers, we have no development charges here,” Mayor Shawn Pankow said on Feb. 18.
Kevlar developers claimed that the town falsely advertised having no development charges.
“It severely disrupts the affordability of the units, which was the main idea of the units,” McCuaig said.
“I think it was a huge mistake we didn’t push for sidewalks in other parts of the development,” Councillor Chris McGuire said on Feb 18. “I think the growth should pay for growth.”
Currently, there are no pedestrian crossings between Ferrara Drive and the commercial area on Lombard Street.
“Remember that Mapleridge will have over 100 homes. Bellamy Farms will be home to 70 or 80 people,” Mayor Pankow said on Feb. 24. “When these developments come it will be an even higher traffic area.”