A compromise on height has allowed a boutique hotel and assembly hall to move forward along the entranceway to the Old Town.
The Village Square, a commercial centre on the border of the Garrison Village residential neighbourhood, will include a four-storey hotel at the corner of Niven Road and Niagara Stone Road, as well as an assembly hall, a grocery store and small shops.
John Hawley, owner of Traditional Neighbourhood Development and the builder of Garrison Village, a neighbourhood approved more than 20 years ago, and The Village, a newer section of the subdivision, had asked for a height increase to 55.8 feet for the hotel and assembly hall, the cornerstones of the project. He could have built to 36 feet without the amendment he was seeking.
Although the height increase was approved at the committee of the whole meeting of Aug. 13 without discussion, and many residents at previous meetings have said they supported it, a petition signed by 164 people was presented to councillors indicating opposition to the hotel and assembly hall, the increased height, the tourist draw to their neighbourhood and parking issues as some of their concerns.
At this week's council meeting, Coun. Betty Disero put forward an amendment to the bylaw, keeping the height of the two main buildings at just under 50 feet. She also asked for a cap of 60 rooms for the hotel – Hawley was asking for permission to build up to 80 rooms.
She said she likes the concept of the project, but Hawley's request for the height increase “went one tiny little step too far.”
To the question of traffic concerns on Garrison Village Drive, at an intersection where residents have been asking for improvements, she pointed out the town is working with Hawley on a solution which would likely involve a small roundabout.
“I don't particularly care for the the design of the building. I'm sure the urban design committee and residents will have some comment,” said Disero.
But she said she really likes The Village concept, where people live and walk in their community.
“This is what drew me to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was thrilled so many people were walking, meeting their neighbours, getting to know their neighbours. That's the best form of community safety.”
She said she wishes Hawley luck with the next stage of his development. “I just hope it doesn't take him another 20 years.”
Her amendment passed with Coun. Paolo Miele the only one opposed.