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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Council to consider requests for Essex Town Centre subdivision

by Sylene Argent

Essex Council held a statutory public meeting on Monday evening, inside the large meeting room at the Essex Municipal Building, which tabled the report, “Essex Town Centre Limited Rezoning Application, R. Valente, agent (Essex Centre, Ward 1)” for public discussion.

  Policy Planner Jeff Watson’s Report to Council on the matter notes a rezoning application has been submitted by Essex Town Centre Limited, Remo Valente, agent, for lands comprising Blocks 7 to 18, which is situated south of Maidstone Avenue West and east of Highway # 3.

  During the meeting, Council learned the background information, were able to ask questions of the project, and heard concerns and ideas from residents.

  In the report, Watson noted the subdivision lands are located behind the Canadian Tire Store and Tim Hortons and McDonald’s restaurants. The 85-acre parcel is divided into street blocks on a registered plan of subdivision.

  With the exception of two neighbourhood commercial blocks at the future entrance to the subdivision, the property is zoned R2.2, low density residential. Block 7 and Part of Block 8, which are located at the entrance to the future subdivision, are zoned C1.1, neighbourhood commercial, which permits retail stores, personal service shops, business and professional offices, and other uses intended to serve this residential subdivision, the report highlights.

  Applicant, Remo Valente, said this project would be completed in phases, where up to 550 dwelling units of various types could be accommodated. The first phase would consist of 89 homes: 29 single homes, 32 raised ranches, and 28 ranch-style semi-detached homes.

  Essex Town Centre Subdivision made a zoning request of Council, that the C1.1 zoning applies to Block 7 and Part of Block 8, facing Street A. Between Blocks 7 and 8 is a road right of way, which will provide access to the Canadian Tire store. The applicants are requesting that Block 8, south of the future Canadian Tire roadway, permit R2.2 uses, as well as neighbourhood commercial uses.

  The report to Council notes the Planning Department has requested a site plan, demonstrating how neighbourhood commercial uses can be accommodated exclusively on Block 7.

  The applicants are asking for three revisions to the R2.2 zoning regulations. They would like to be permitted to construct the single-detached dwelling on a lot having a minimum width of 40 feet and a lot area of 4300 square feet. Currently, the minimum lot width and lot area are 15m and 5000 square foot, respectively.

  It was noted during the meeting that the City of Windsor allows for this lot size, as does Kingsville on a project-to-project basis.

  Through the meeting, it was noted Valente would like some of the lots to be 40’. He estimated, in the overall project, that 25 percent would have 40’ frontage, if Council will allow.

  He believes this will be attractive to potential home buyers, who may not be able to afford a $500,000 new home building.   

  They would also like to reduce the width of an exterior side yard, which abuts a public road, from 4.5m to 1.2m, where the lot abuts a road right of way having a width of 20m and 3m where the lot abuts a road right of way of under 20m in width.

  The applicant is also requesting the elimination of the attached garage width restriction for semi-detached and townhome dwellings. Currently, the width of an attached garage is limited to the equivalent of 60 percent of the width of the dwelling.

  Watson said this subdivision has been of interest since 2006. Previous terms of Councils have approved requests from former developers of the lot in 2006 and 2013.

  Council will make a decision on the requests at a subsequent Council meeting, perhaps the August 7 meeting. If the revisions are passed, a subsequent bylaw will be presented in likely September, with a public appeal period.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said he understands the need for 40’ lots, but would not like all of the lots to be that size. He did have concerns of the 40’ frontage offering space for only two cars in the driveway, which could create parking issues in the future. If 40’ lots are used, he would like to see larger front yards so more driveway space could be implemented. He said he was not in favour of garages that cover the whole front of a home.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she was warming up to the 40’ frontage idea and did not have issue with the side lot request. She was not crazy about removing the garage restriction.

  Valente said it is hoped the starting price for the homes would be in the $300,000 range. Due to the upfront costs for storm water management to each lot to be created, Valente said it is desirable to presell the lots in the first phase to builders to get the development started. 

  Residents of the area had a chance to speak. One note there was concern that with a reduced lot size as there could be several homes abutting an existing backyard, but was not opposed to the subdivision so long as it is done correctly.

  Chris Nepszy, Essex’s Director of Infrastructure & Development, said the applicants will have to submit storm water and sewage management plans for the Town to review.  

  The applicant will also have to abide by a few County of Essex bylaws, as it would abut a County road.

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