Planner representing the Millcroft community puts their case forward

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

April 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Third in a series

MAD – Millcroft against Development realized they had a problem on their hands and went looking for a planner who could create the case they believed they had against the development.

The proposal the developer has taken to the Planning department is to add 98 detached dwellings and one mid-rise apartment building containing 130 dwelling units.

The community knew they had a serious problem and went looking for a planner who could point to the deficiencies in the proposed development in language that would equal what the planner for Millcroft Greens was putting forward.

A sort of “planner speak” going against another “planner speak”.

Alan Ramsay

Allan Ramsay – independent planner hired by the MAD community.

Allan Ramsay was their choice; he made a delegation which set out what the proposed development would mean to the community.  Before going into private practice Ramsay worked in the city planning department; while he did not work on the Millcroft file he was fully aware of the development.  At that time, in the mid 80’s it was a big deal for Burlington.

When the issue first became public – all the homes in the community got a letter from the then golf course owners – operators inviting people to a meeting.

The Mayor and the ward Councillor were all over the issue with emails and statements equaling the production of a healthy female rabbit.  Truth of the matter is that they could only offer words and do their best at council to grill the consulting planner on what the changes would really mean.  At that level the mayor was very good – let’s not equivocate  – she was superb.

She left Glenn Wellings searching for words and saying he did not have much of the information at his finger tips – and promised to get it for Her Worship and place it on the developers web site.  As of this writing – there are none of the promised answers.

Millcroft is a community with a mission to preserve the integrity of the existing Millcroft golf course said Allan Ramsay as he began his delegation.

Millcroft current Sept 21

The development as it exists today.  A par 70 course with 5700 feet .

revised golf course layout

The revised golf course will be a par 62 3900 foot Executive Style layout.  The yellow spots are where the detached homes will be placed.

Areas A - B C

98 detached homes will be located in the gray areas.

He had just ten minutes to speak as a delegate – and chose to answer questions.  He had sent a copy of his delegation to the city planners and every member of Council.

In his response to the development application he said what we have set out below:

The proposal by Millcroft Greens Corporation (“Millcroft Greens”) seeks to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law and register a plan of subdivision to allow five portions of the existing Millcroft Golf Course (“Areas A-E”) to be developed with residential uses. A total of 98 detached dwellings and one mid-rise apartment building containing 130 dwelling units are proposed.

The subject lands are currently designated “Major Parks & Open Space” (Areas A-D), and “Residential – Medium Density” (Area E) in the City’s Official Plan.

Millcroft Greens is proposing to redesignate Areas A-D to allow low-density residential uses, and redesignate Area E to allow high-density residential uses with a maximum density of 200 units/ha. All of the subject lands are currently zoned “Open Space (O1)” in the City’s Zoning By-law.

In preparing our planning opinion we have undertaken an examination of the following:

i) the application submission and supporting documentation;
ii) neighbourhood context applicable to the subject property;
iii) the policy context; and
iv) the appropriateness of the application.

The following outlines our evaluation and conclusions in relation to these matters and concludes with the opinion, as professional planners, that the applications should not be approved.

Neighbourhood Millcroft

Wide streets, good medians and space between the houses.

Neighbourhood Character – the Millcroft community was planned as a prestige residential area built around a privately operated golf course. Inherent in the community concept is the integration of residential areas with the golf course and other forms of open-space and recreation areas.(1) Some of the defining residential characteristics of the community are the large lots, spacious setbacks and separations between dwellings and an abundance of open space. The Millcroft Greens proposal will result in development that is not in keeping with the established character of the existing community. The proposal, if approved, will facilitate an undesired change in the character of the area. For example:

i) Development Standards – As illustrated below Millcroft Greens is proposing significant reductions to the zoning regulations in comparison with the R2-3 zone found on most of the abutting and adjacent properties.

table

The differences between what the current zoning permits and what the developer is asking for – this is really the nub of the argument.

Zoning Regulation R2-3 Standard on Adjacent Lands Proposed
Exception Zoning
Min. Lot Frontage 18 m 15 m
Min. Lot Area 680 m2 425 m2
Min. Front Yard (Dwelling) 7.5 m 4.5 m
Min. Side Yard (1) 1.8 m or 10% of lot frontage 1.2 m
Min. Rear Yard (2) 9.0 m 7.5 m
Min. Building Height (2) 10 m 12 m
Min. Lot Coverage (2) 25% n/a

The proposed zoning standards will result in development that is not in keeping with the character of the existing area. The new lots will be significantly smaller and narrower with much smaller front, rear and yard setbacks. Millcroft Greens is also proposing taller dwellings with no restriction of lot coverage.

ii) Separation Between Buildings – one of the defining characteristics of the Millcroft community is the spaciousness between dwellings as seen from the street. Many of the existing dwellings are separated from dwellings on the opposite side of the street by large front yards and the full width of the municipal road. The separation distance from the front door of one dwelling to the front door of the dwelling on the opposite side of the street is typically between 34 m and 44 m (2). Millcroft Greens is proposing both reduced front yard, side yard and rear yard setbacks and narrow private streets. As a result the separation between dwellings on opposite side of the street will be reduced to 19.3 m. The visual difference between a separation of 19.3 m and a separation of 34 m to 44 m is dramatic.

iii) Lot Coverage – Millcroft Greens is proposing a zoning exception to the normal requirement of a maximum 25% lot coverage. For Areas A to D, Millcroft Greens is proposing that there be no maximum lot coverage. The elimination of the lot coverage regulation is required in order to accommodate larger dwellings that would not normally be permitted. This situation is indicative of the overdevelopment of the lots and is not in keeping with the character of the area.

Millcroft golf course

The green space and the golf course were why people bought into the community. The golf course was never a top tier competitive location – but it worked for those who just enjoyed the game.

Loss of Open Space –The Millcroft community was planned in the 1980s with the approvals occurring through Official Plan Amendment 117 (OPA 117). According to OPA 117 the community plan was based on the integration of residential development within the open space land of the golf course and other natural features. Specifically OPA 117 indicated:

“…It is also the intent of the Plan that, should the operation of the golf course discontinue, these lands will remain as permanent open space, since portions of these lands contain creek features which are part of the stormwater management system for the Community. The open space associated with the golf course will be an important element in the concept and therefore the marketing of the Community. It is also the policy of this Plan that the City neither intends nor will be obliged to purchase the golf course lands in order to ensure their existence as permanent open space.” (Emphasis Added)

Although OPA 117 is no longer in force and effect and it is not applicable policy it clearly demonstrates the intention of the City to maintain the open space lands in the community as a permanent feature.

The Millcroft Greens proposal represents a significant loss of open space in the community and City. The adverse impacts include the loss of tree canopy, increased runoff due to additional roads, buildings and hard surfaces and the loss of wildlife habitant and natural features.

Flooding and Stormwater Management Issues – The Millcroft community was designed on the basis that the golf course lands would provide a benefit in dealing with rainfall and storm water by providing open storage of stormwater. Recent storm events have identified several flooding and storm water management issues in the Millcroft community.

The redevelopment of the fairways in the Areas A-D with housing, roads and other hard surfaces will, according to our stormwater management review, increase runoff and worsen the flooding potential. In particular, Millcroft Greens’ proposed mitigation measures such as increasing the topsoil to 300 mm and disconnecting downspouts to rear yards will not likely achieve effective stormwater management.

On behalf of M.A.D. we request the City investigate and report on the following:

(i) What strategies have been put in place to compensate for the loss of the golf course on river flooding?

(ii) Have the proponents conducted an assessment of potential basement flooding within the areas where foundation drains are connected to storm sewers?

(iii) What is the volume (cubic meters) of storage currently available for stormwater in the golf course and what is the volume of storage proposed through the developers functional servicing report? (and later why aren’t they the same?)

(iv) Will residents be compensated in the case that basement flooding damages occur?

Reduced Right-of-Way Widths – Millcroft Greens is proposing to develop Areas A – D using private roads instead of the standard municipal road. According to their submission these private roads have right-of-ways of 10.3 m rather than the 20 m right-of-ways found on the nearby municipal roads. These reduced right-of ways provide 8.3 m of pavement width and may not accommodate on-street parking.

Although private driveways are found in many condominium developments the use of private roads having reduced right-of-ways is new to the Millcroft community.

tight development

Some of the new detached units are show in full colour. The existing structures are shown in a light grey. Looks tight

Roads Introduced Along Rear Property Lines – Millcroft Greens is proposing development along a single loaded road in Area A. In this situation the new road is located near the rear lot line of the adjoining properties on Hadfield Crt. The new street will create a “sandwich effect” for several existing properties. Homeowners in this location will now have streets running along their front and rear yards. This situation raises issues of noise, privacy and nuisance for the abutting residents and will undoubtedly impact their use and enjoyment of their back yards.

Loss of Housing Adjacent to Golf Course – The Millcroft Community is one of only three locations in the urban areas of the City that provides a unique opportunity where housing is located adjacent to a golf course. The proposed redevelopment of the golf course lands will mean that approximately 65 dwellings that currently back onto the golf course will back onto new housing or a new subdivision road. The loss of this unique housing adjacent to golf courses is not desirable and significantly reduces the supply of this unique form of housing.

Redevelopment of Additional Golf Course Lands – At this time Millcroft Greens has not indicated if it has any plans for any further redevelopment of the remaining golf course lands. However, in considering the current proposal it is important to understand how the remainder of the golf course lands could be used and/or redeveloped. In particular, an assessment is required in order to ensure that the current proposal does not preclude the continuing use or orderly redevelopment of any adjacent lands.

Functionality of the Remaining Golf Course – The proposed realignment of the golf holes to accommodate the removal of some lands from the golf course use may create issues with respect to the functionality and viability of the golf course. One issue relates to extended distance and travel required to get from one green to the next tee. In several instances the distance and travel has increased significantly. For example, the distance from the tenth green to the eleventh tee will be approximately 230 m and the distance from the fifteenth green to the sixteenth tee is approximately 471 m. Another issue involves the overall desirability of the re-aligned and much shorter golf course. These factors are directly related to the long term viability of the golf course and the need to assess its future in a comprehensive rather than ad hoc or piecemeal basis.

Maintenance Building Relocation – Redevelopment Area E necessitates the relocation of the existing golf course maintenance building located on this site. Millcroft Greens has not indicated where the maintenance building will be relocated. While we understand the maintenance building is a permitted use under the zoning by-law on all the golf course lands, the future location of the facility is an important consideration and should be evaluated when considering the redevelopment of Area E and the re-alignment of the golf course resulting from the proposed residential development. The future location of the maintenance building may have traffic, noise, dust and other impacts.

Proposed 6m Buffer – the proposed draft plans of subdivision identify 6 m buffer blocks adjacent to the rear property lines in Areas A to D. The proposed buffer blocks are also shown on the Conceptual Open Space Plans submitted by Millcroft Greens. According to the Planning Justification Report the proposed buffer blocks will be a common element in a future condominium application and will be owned by the future condominium corporation(s). The purpose of these buffer blocks is not clear nor is it readily apparent the nature of the landscaping that will be provided, how maintenance of these areas will take place, what, if any, fencing will be provided and whether or not there will be any public or private access to the blocks.

The proposed development is not compatible with the well established character of the area. Though compatibility does not necessarily mean “same”, it also does not mean out-of-step with a stable environment. The proposed zoning regulations seek significant reductions in minimum requirements for lot area, lot frontage and front, rear and side yard setbacks. As well, the proposal seeks to eliminate lot coverage requirements.

Collectively these zoning changes will result in an over development of the Subject Lands.

The Gazette and Wellings Planning Consultants are involved in a libel dispute

Related news stories

Part 1 of the series

Part 2 of the series

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1 comment to Planner representing the Millcroft community puts their case forward

  • Alfred

    New Official Plan, outdated by-laws, New Provincial rules that call for efficient, affordable compact housing and development. Not the same old game anymore. Where this all goes? Who knows?

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