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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Proposed development for former Harrow Junior School property gets public airing

Approximately 20 Harrow residents gathered in the Community Room at the Harrow & Colchester South Community Centre on Tuesday, February 26 to participate in a public meeting regarding a new development proposed for the former Harrow Junior School location.

by Kyle Reid

Essex Town Council held a special public meeting on Tuesday, February 26, at the Harrow & Colchester South Community Centre, to inform residents, and receive feedback, about a rezoning application made to construct 17 semi-detached dwellings, consisting of 34 total units, in the location of the former Harrow Junior School.

  The proposal, made by an unnamed, numbered company, would potentially see the old school demolished to allow for the new housing on the property. While the nearly 20 residents who attended the meeting expressed a few concerns with the development plans, most were happy to hear the location would be put to use after it has sat vacant for nearly five years.

  Ward 4 Councillor Sherry Bondy spoke to the crowd who attended the meeting, noting that the abandoned property has been an ongoing issue for her since the school was decommissioned in 2014.

  “We’ve had a lot of issues with property standards, so I’m glad you’re here tonight looking at solutions to developing it,” Bondy said. “We want to see Harrow grow. If we don’t see Harrow grow, we’re going to stay behind.”

  According to a presentation, delivered by Town Policy Planner, Jeff Watson, the re-zoning application would have an allowed maximum building height of two storeys. According to representatives of the landowners who attended the meeting, however, the plan would be to construct single level houses, which would be suitable for seniors. The value of the individual units would be around $300,000 to $350,000, which is in line with area property values, Watson said.  

  And, while the idea to develop the abandoned property was supported by most residents in attendance, some commented they believe that until they see a sight plan for the development, they couldn’t express much concern.

  Others were unhappy that an unnamed company is proposing the development, and the proponents had employed agents from Haddad Morgan and Associates, an engineering consultation firm, to attend the meeting on their behalf.

  Some also expressed concern about capacity in the area for storm water retention and management, with Council noting that an updated plan will need to be submitted before the re-zoning is either approved or denied. It was noted that the Town intends on entering a cost-sharing agreement for a reconstruction of a portion of the storm water system in the area. While the cost to the Town has yet to be determined on that matter, the 2019 budget included $150,000 for upgrades to the Harrow Junior School storm water system.

Bondy noted Council earmarked that money specifically to make improvements to the area, and that the development will further add to those upgrades already on tap from Council.

  “We’ve earmarked it in our budget, saying we want to make improvements in the area, too,” Bondy said. “So, when we get a development, we’re going to get additional improvements in the area. I think it has the potential to benefit all of us, as long as we get our concerns out there.”

  Bondy said Council will take the concerns, questions, and feedback from residents, and will return with answers at a future public meeting about the development. A report will go to Council on March 18 with specific recommendations on whether the re-zoning application should be approved. 


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