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Sunday, January 29, 2023
Chautauqua neighbours coming around to improved Circle Street proposal

Chautauqua residents are slowly coming together in support of a rezoning application for Circle Street.

Although they don’t fully support the original proposed dwelling, they do support the severing of the Niagara-on-the-Lake lot. 

“I am not really here to oppose this particular proposal but we do have something worthwhile to say,” said Victor Tarnoy, a Wilberforce Street resident, during the first Committee of the Whole meeting this year. He said residents decided they would rather see the lot split than allowing for larger development in the future.

“We sat down and talked about our ideals and it’s not that we’re against small properties or subdividing,” he said. “In fact I think a common sentiment amongst all of us would be better to sever the property than leave it as a great big property that might invite a great big house, which would be out of keeping and out of character for our neighbourhood.”

Susan Wheler, planner for the 6 Circle St. project, presented the updated plans for the property.  The Nov. 21 open house had such a high turnout, and so many concerns from local residents, Lord Mayor Betty Disero agreed a second public meeting would be held. 

Previously, residents were concerned about the front yard setback, the validity of the arborist report, the location of the driveway, the streetscape and the location of a 75-foot silver maple tree.

The original application for rezoning included plans to sever the lot into two new lots with one being a triangular pie shape.

The line severing the two pieces of land “created an awkward pie shaped new lot, uncharacteristic of the neighbourhood,” said Wheler of the original plan. There was also a potential negative impact on the streetscape because of the size and style of the house. 

Wheler also agreed with the members of the community on the topic of the silver maple.

“Neighbours were worried the root system would be compromised during the construction phase when we were composing a 2.44-metre setback and they were entirely correct in that assumption,” she said.

However, despite technical difficulties with Wheler’s slideshow, council and community members were quickly shown a new design on printed handouts.

According to the new plans, the rear lot line was adjusted to minimize the pie shape which was originally proposed, resulting in a slightly bigger lot area. Parking was also moved to the west side of the new lot, and both properties would now use existing entrance ways eliminating the need to create a new driveway.

The proposed 2.44 meter frontyard setback was also changed to 6.7-metres to be more inline with the rest of the properties.

“In the end I believe we have made a better plan that is more compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood,” said Wheler.

But Tarnoy suggested a different option for severance. He suggested splitting the lot into two equal parts.

“It should be severed to two equal pieces each with an equal frontage, each with an equal area. This creates two reasonable lots that don’t require variances to build residential buildings,” he said.

However, other concerns about safety were brought up in regards to the neighbourhood.

Barry Wilding, a Circle Street resident, mentioned there’s a speeding problem on the street and he’s worried he won’t be able to see traffic coming out of his driveway if his view is obstructed.

“I can’t see from right hand side and my fear is a big house will block my view from coming out of my driveway,” he said.

Another Circle Street resident, Tim Jones, agreed saying when driving clockwise you can’t see what’s in front of you or what’s coming because of the hedges.

The original proposal had the house too close to the road and cars parked in the driveway would obstruct the view and there would be no way to see whats on other side.

“I’ve seen it so many times where smaller cars, sports cars let’s say, you can’t see what’s coming and people are pushing baby buggies, it’s almost happened,”he said. “The new proposal seems to be farther back, I haven’t seen how close to the roads the car will park but if you park a long car like a van you’re going to have problems.”

If the severance is approved, the size of the two new lots would be 348 and 496 square metres.

The land owners and planner are working diligently with the Chautauqua community to better their plans and make sure that everyone is happy with the outcome and will continue to do so throughout this process.

“I want to thank lord mayor, council and residents association and the neighbours as well for the input,” said Wheler.

“I really do feel that the process has produced a better design … Obviously the residents have not seen the new design and they’re at a disadvantage and we realize they’d like to take the time to review the design, setbacks, lot configuration and the style and provide feedback as I’m sure the town staff will as well.”

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