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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Protections for Rand Estate won’t affect Solmar proposal, town says
Resident Elizabeth Masson suggests the town invite developer Benny Marotta to donate the Rand Estate to the town. EVAN LOREE

The results of a study conducted last year could be used to change town policy on development in the Rand Estate.

But that same study will have no impact on a subdivision application for the Rand Estate that was submitted to the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake by Solmar Development Corp., the town’s chief planner says.

“The applications are reviewed against the policy that is in place at the time the applications are deemed complete,” said planning director Kirsten McCauley.

David Riley, of SGL Planning & Design, is working with Solmar and agreed with McCauley. 

The subdivision application cast a shadow on a public meeting Feb 6. where residents and councillors discussed policy recommendations from consultants Urban Strategies and GBCA Architects.

Resident Gracia Janes, speaking on behalf of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Conservancy, said the character study and policy recommendations from Urban Strategies was “significantly hindered by the pressure of a multi-home subdivision currently being processed.”

Developer Benny Marotta has submitted the subdivision application to the Ontario Land Tribunal and a hearing is set for April.

The hearing was scheduled for the end of March, but McCauley told council it has been pushed back one week.

Urban Strategies consultant Tim Smith presented his team’s recommendations for the site.

The consultant’s report suggested seven principles be used to guide development on the historic grounds.

Those principles together recommend that: the site’s history and nature be protected, development respect the existing character of the area, active transportation networks be included and a range of different housing be built.

The Rand Estate is currently intended for low- and medium-density development, and is intended for some intensification, the report said.

The town plans to craft an official plan amendment from these recommendations to guide future construction on the site, said a report by McCauley.

Janes said an amendment to the official plan dating back to 2017 designates areas “south of Mary Street and west of Charlotte” for intensification.

She said the Rand Estate is not targeted for intensification.

“It took a lot of time, a lot of effort and good planning, and that’s where they put the intensification,” she said.

Coun. Tim Balasiuk, who chaired the meeting, interrupted Janes three times, reminding her to stay on topic and within speaking time limits. 

“This study is about planning. It is about future character areas. It is about what we are going to do with this marvellous piece of property,” she said.

Dana Anderson, a planner from the Save Our Rand Estate residents group, spoke in favour of the recommendations from Urban Strategies.

Riley said the results of the tribunal hearing could have an impact on the Urban Strategies’ policy proposals.

He recommended the town defer any decisions to add the policies to its official plan.

Coun. Gary Burroughs was not on board with a deferral.

“I think it’s a very important document to be done before the hearing,” he said.

It was important to indicate the town’s intentions for development on the Rand Estate, he said.

Burroughs asked staff to rush the proposed policy changes back to council for approval by the end of March.

McCauley estimated it might take two months before staff could bring back drafted planning amendments.

It would be tight, trying to get it back before then, she said.

evanloree@niagaranow.com

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