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Public meeting held for proposed McGregor rezoning



by Adam Gault

Essex Town Council held a public meeting on Monday evening at the McGregor Community Centre to discuss a proposed zoning amendment that could have the former McGregor Home Hardware facility renovated into a 9-unit apartment building.

Citing a lack of a year-round market and slow winter business, the longstanding Home Hardware shut its doors last year after serving the local community for decades.

Now, its former ownership is seeking a zoning change to the property to permit the conversion of the first-floor commercial area into five dwelling units and permit the construction of a semi-detached dwelling, fronting on Arquette Street, which lies directly behind the property.

“One of the things I’m recommending, is I want it under Site Planning Control,” Essex Policy Planner, Jeff Watson, said. “Which means, that basically, in order for [the property owner] to convert the first floor into multiple dwelling units, he has to follow up through on the verbal commitments that he made: tear down redundant buildings and structures, pave the parking lot, do the proper drainage to our modern-day standard.”

As per municipal standards, a minimum of 11 parking spaces (nine conventional and two handicapped) are required for a 9-unit residential building.

Despite this, several members of the public in attendance at the meeting expressed concerns that this would not be sufficient for the proposed building as they believed a lack of adequate parking spaces would lead to parking on nearby streets and sidewalks.

“[Home Hardware’s] only parking was on that Arquette side, there was nothing on the Walker side,” Watson explained. “Basically, you’re going from commercial activity to residential activity, and as I said, residential parking is very predictable. You pretty well know when their cars are going to leave, you pretty well know when the cars are going to come back. It’s much more predictable than it is for commercial buildings.”

Other residents raised issue with drainage from the rear lot, however, with any future Site Plan Control in place, this would require drainage to be upgrade to current municipal standards as part of the building’s renovation.

At this time, the Planning Department will submit a report to Essex Council as early as April 15, which will include their recommendations in regard to this development. If Council endorses the proposal, a rezoning bylaw will be presented to Council for approval, with a 20-day public appeal period to follow.

Additional details regarding the potential development can be found online at essex.ca

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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