Aldershot developer hits a roadblock: planners didn’t see things the way he had hoped they would. Residents win this time.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 10, 2011 – The chickens came home to roost for Drewlo Developments and their very large, five, multi-storey buildings on Plains Road.  The city’s Community Development Committee decided Monday evening not to approve an application Drewlo had made for  change in the site plan.

Back in May of this year, Bruce Krushelnicki, the city planner, asked that this situation be “un-delegated”, by which he meant he wanted the authority to make decisions taken out of his hands and have a council committee handle the problem.  And handle the problem they did.

Drewlo had arbitrarily decided not to construct one of the ramps to the underground parking beneath the five buildings.  There were to be five such ramps into the massive parking lot that stretched out underneath all five buildings.

Local residents, led by Robert Copper, claimed the deletion of one of the five ramps would result in a serious traffic congestion in their community: Fairwood Place East and West and Fairwood Hollow, where there are a total of 54 townhouses.  Cooper, who doesn’t have much to say that is positive about Drewlo, told the Council Committee his community strongly supported the recommendation from the Planning department to refuse the developer’s request to amend the site plan so that the ramp would not have to be built.  Cooper wanted the city to direct Drewlo to restore the ramp as set out in the original site plan – and that basically is what they got.

Lawyers for Drewlo produced a very detailed traffic study which they claimed showed that there wouldn’t be any traffic flow that couldn’t be managed.  The Committee didn’t buy that argument.

The ramp: supposed to be five of them, there are just four. That missing ramp is going to have to be put in place - an expensive proposition for the developer..

Those Councillors with a more commercial frame of mind asked if it was possible at this point to restore the ramp.  John McNair, legal counsel for the developer explained that it was possible but that it would be very expensive and very disruptive.   Expensive it will certainly be but it looks as if Burlington has decided to be a bit bloody minded with this developer who, according to Robert Cooper has “bent or broken almost every provision of the site plan agreement since it was approved in 2008.”

Copper went on to say that: “We are not the first community to be bulldozed by Drewlo Holdings…London, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener have all been subjected to their indifference toward city guidelines.

Next step in this process: probably an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board where developers usually hold sway – but this time around a developer who has a reputation of being indifferent to the community might just have met his comeuppance.

As Cooper said the Committee: “The passion and concern of a lot of our residents over more than ten years must be taken into consideration tonight.  We have had enough and therefore urge this committee to uphold the recommendation of the planning department to refuse the request for a revised site plan.

Aldershot residents showed up at every council committee meeting to fight for what they believed was right. Last night they got their first taste of victory.

A large number of residents from the community were on hand to support Cooper.  Most were typical Aldershot residents; quiet, law abiding people who had just had it.  It was a victory they will savour for some time – and should this be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board expect this crowd to come out in force again.

Meanwhile, quite a bit of the construction on the Aldershot Plaza I is at a standstill.

The community was supported not only by the Planning department but also had the whole hearted support of Rick Craven, their Council member who at times during this long drawn out procedure was beside himself over the way Drewlo had behaved.

When the project first came to the city everyone was excited – it meant a big change to the look and feel of Plains Road and had the potential to bring about significant growth in the community.  But the very poor working relationship between the developer and the city resulted in a project that has been mired with one problem after another.  Burlington took a strong position and then stood its ground.  The developer now has to deal with the sting of losing and also with the additional costs.


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