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Monday, April 15, 2024
160 homes could replace rural woodlot in Virgil
Grey Forest Homes is planning to add a subdivision with 160 homes to Virgil. EVAN LOREE

A new subdivision plan is in the works for Virgil, which may mean the death of up to 800 trees.

Developer Grey Forest Homes plans to put 160 homes on a lot currently used as a growth operation for coniferous trees and which historically has been used as farmland.

The lot consists of some land without an address as well as land at 1537 Concession 6 and 448 Line 2 rds.

The developer wants to build 52 single-family units, six on-street townhouses and 102 units in block townhouses.

The build-out represents the second of two phases for the Konik Estates subdivision.

Residents heard the details of the planned subdivision at a virtual open house on Monday night – and some shared they weren’t happy with the plans.

“I just want to express how much of a shame it is to be removing 800 mature trees in an area that doesn’t have a lot of mature trees,” said resident Catherine Lowrey.

Lowrey said the trees are home to thousands of nesting birds and disputed the claim that the tree removal poses no significant threat to wildlife.

During the meeting, Brian Marshall, resident and Lake Report columnist, said this area is home to the red-headed woodpecker, a threatened and endangered species.

In May 2021, the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario listed the red-headed woodpecker as endangered in Ontario, at the time reporting that the species is down to approximately 6,000 individuals across North America.

A planner from Upper Canada Consultants, William Heikoop, said researchers didn’t record any sightings of the species when conducting its assessment but would look into it further.

Lowrey asked why the town’s forestry bylaws do not apply and if the developer would have to pay to cut down each tree. 

Heikoop, who the developer retained to assist with the project proposal, said environmental policies flow down from the region.

These dictate whether forests and woodlands require protection.

The site did not meet the region’s “significant woodlot” criteria and therefore is not protected, he said.

The developer is not “exempt” from the town’s tree bylaw though, he said, and would have to get permits from the town to cut them down.

“It would be very difficult to accommodate those existing trees while we try and ensure there’s proper swales and drainage,” Heikoop said.

Lowrey estimated it would cost up to $200,000 to cut them down but Heikoop said he would not speculate on the cost of the cuttings.

Tanya Rice, a Line 2 Road resident, was more concerned about traffic.

She suggested the traffic study submitted with the application, which was completed in December, is out of date.

Traffic down Line 2 has increased since Niagara Region placed a speed camera on Niagara Stone Road and has “become a speeding zone,” she said, as drivers cut through the street to avoid the speed camera.

She asked if the developer would build fewer homes on Line 2 to reduce the additional impact on traffic levels.

Heikoop said there was not much he and his team could do to address her concerns. 

The town is planning to upgrade Line 2 Road and would be introducing additional traffic safety measures as part of the future roadwork, he said.

There are also no plans to build a park in the new subdivision, Heikoop said, because the town asked for cash instead of parkland and those funds would be used to upgrade existing parks.

Marshall was most concerned about drainage in the future subdivision.

Heikoop explained when Grey Forest Homes designed the first half of Konik Estates, the town wanted only one stormwater management facility for the subdivision.

Marshall said stormwater on Concession 6 flows back towards the proposed development.

The resident said he recalled plans for swales that would redirect flood water back toward the stormwater management facility in the first phase of the subdivision.

The developer is planning to construct swales in the rear yards of the houses, Heikoop confirmed, and it plans to build on Concession 6 which would help manage the stormwater.

evanloree@niagaranow.com

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