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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Letter: King Street apartment proposal is inappropriate

Dear editor:

As residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake for 50-plus years, we have seen incredible development changes in our once-perfect community.

But over the years, as developers grasped the potential of profiting from those who chose to preserve and maintain this community, the quaintness and charmed ambience is shattering.

Our elected officials have to curtail the over-development of our town and resist the lure of creating excessive and expensive housing for the profit of greedy developers.

By now the community should know there is a public meeting on Sept. 12, regarding the proposed building of a 17-unit, three-storey apartment on King Street.

The building is to be tucked into a contrived lot that was assembled through three successful applications to the committee of adjustment.

Each application requested minor variances to accommodate the building of a single-family residence.

Now that the variances have been granted a multi-unit residence is planned. All that is needed is a zoning change and maybe some more minor accommodations to squeeze it in.

This proposal rings more alarm bells for overall planning directions and processes of the town.

Even though the official plan designates this area as single-family, an individual has felt confident enough to invest large sums of money, time and the skills of qualified ex-NOTL town planners to put forward this inappropriate building.

Was there not a point in time when the town staff or elected officials should have strongly advised the developer that the proposal is unacceptable? Do we now have to invest our tax dollars to use staff and the public’s time to explain the obvious?

The densification in this area of town is quite intense. Within the last few years, the apple and pear orchards, the vineyards and green space that once filled the land between King, Anne and Victoria streets have been developed into a large subdivision.

The neighbourhood school is gone and only the memories of children on the creative playground (built by parents) are but distant recollections.

We have welcomed a plethora of new neighbours. We have lived with construction vehicles, trucks with their back-up beeping, the early-morning pounding of construction and all the related inconveniences of new builds. We are intensified to the max.

In our disbelief that such a proposal is being submitted for consideration, we became more aware of the municipal governance process – and in particular, the power of the committee of adjustment (appointed by council) and its quasi-judicial powers.

Its power supersedes those of our elected officials, to the point that if council disagrees with a decision, then it has to launch a formal appeal process.

There is no elected council representative on the committee, but members receive advice from town staff.

The committee’s decision is final unless council appeals it.

In the case of the King Street apartment proposal, the committee could change the official plan to accommodate a zoning change in an area that already fulfills its density and housing quotas.

These decisions can potentially be made by three unelected officials and only two of them have to be in agreement.

We strongly urge all residents to look to their neighbourhoods, backyards and empty lots. A proposal for an apartment could be coming to your street.

For detailed information about the proposal, visit the Town of NOTL site www.bit.ly/727King or email amecs96@gmail.com. Register with the clerk’s office at clerks@notl.com to attend the Sept. 12 public meeting and be allowed to speak.

Jim and Erika Alexander

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