Residents of the Village — 164 of them — have signed a petition to town council, outlining that they are against a recent proposal for an 80-room hotel and short-term rental units to be built on the vacant land beside Shopper’s Drug Mart.
Village resident Douglas Gibson presented the petition to councillors at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday.
He said he and the residents who signed the petition do not believe the proposal — currently for a hotel and series of short-term rental units, will suit resident needs, and that home owners were led to believe during negotiations to buy that the village centre would be something for residents to use, like some smaller boutique shops.
A hotel, he said, would also disturb the character of the Village and the drive into Niagara-on-the-Lake.
It’s not what residents bought into, he said.
“The Village Community commercial area was sold to us as a community/residents hub, not a tourist destination containing a hotel and conference centre. We were told that each building was not to be higher than the CIBC, surrounding town homes and existing commercial buildings, which are 36 feet.”
He said the developer also spoke of live/work homes lining Perez Street, and “the types of business artists that would be attracted to these homes.”
Nowhere was it suggested there would be a hotel, short-term rentals or changes to the heights of the buildings, Gibson said.
“The village residents have been left in the dark. We cannot support the proposed changes, as they are not transparent to the community,” he said.
Gibson, who addressed a COTW on July 9, requested developer John Hawley present village residents with drawings of what the proposed buildings would look like before the height allowance is made.
Regardless, he said residents do not support a hotel in the design.
After a public meeting in August, residents were also made aware Hawley had changed his plans from live/work units to short-term rental units, also along Perez Street. Gibson said residents do not support the change, as it would “negatively affect the vibrancy” of the street.
Residents would prefer to see the lots converted into regular housing units with parking located behind them, he said.
Gibson finished asking councillors not to approve Hawley’s rezoning application.
Diane Fallman, a seven-year resident of the Village, said the Hawley’s should “feel very proud” they’ve gathered such a like-minded neighbourhood that “strongly agree with the many aspects of new urbanism.”
She said residents who’ve moved there in last 20 years were excited about resident-friendly aspects of the development, including the current and future village centre.
She said during the July 9 meeting it was falsely represented by the developer that village residents were generally in support of the hotel development.
She said the developer’s claim that they’d made efforts to contact residents and had only heard back from two who were opposed was false.
She said in a Village newsletter residents were told there would be a survey for them to finalize their comments, which never happened.
“We have had to respond to the rezoning of the property request for several important reasons I wanted to clarify,” she said.
“It is our civic responsibility to do so, as the application form for rezoning clearly states if a person or public body does not share their views before a decision is made, they will not be able to appeal the decision after it’s made.”
She said she wanted to make it clear to council how many residents feel they’d been misrepresented.
“Council needs to know how residents do feel about rezoning, and we hope the petition provides that clarity.”
Village residents are concerned, she said.