133 Main St. East - Notes from Developer's Open House

A wake up call. That is how some residents present at last week’s developer open house for the proposed five storey mix-use condominium at 133 Main St East, described the event.

The presentation was led by the IBI group, who brought their specialists and hired consultants in heritage, traffic and engineering - all meant to erase our doubts about the repercussions of a high density mix use development at the core of our town, and on a already busy stretch of Main St.

A range of negative reactions accompanied almost every slide. Certainly, keeping a poker face was simply impossible for many in the audience, who were starting to realize that radical changes to our Main St. are so close to reality. Residents’ dismay culminated with the question session, which saw one of the attendees calling for calm and reminding us that “this developer is here to make money, and not to solve our concerns”.

Here is a copy of the IBI's presentation, in case you missed the event:

The presentation cannot be displayed.

(If you can't view it directly, you can also access the presentation here)

Among the issues that drew lots of attention was the traffic impact of a high density development on Main St. East. The results of the developer’s study concluded that 148 units would generate only 60 trips/morning peak and 83 trips/afternoon peak, and the intersection at Nelles and Main St. East would hardly be impacted.

Residents who live in close proximity to the proposed condominium were concerned that the shape and height of the building will put them in almost total shade during the winter months. Snow would also become a big issue for the townhouse complex at the north side, because the mounds resulted from snow removal on their private condominium road will not melt until spring. None of these concerns were an issue for the developer. Mr. Ariens replied that the reason for this building shape was to “take advantage of the Neighbourhood Commercial zoning”, and the townhouses on the north side are casting shadows on their backyard anyways, “so we’re not adding much”. As for the snow removal, since the road of the townhouse complex behind was private, the residents who live there are solely “responsible for where the snow goes”.

Heritage was another “hairy” topic. We learned that the historical house would actually be moved twice: once to the front of the property, towards Main St. East, while the underground parking lot is being built, and then again, slightly backwards. The stone foundation would be dismantled temporarily, and a protection plan for the house would be put in place, before rebuilding back the foundation and then moving the house on its final resting place. Mr. DeSantis explained that all this exercise, plus restoration of the house is very expensive and it will cost between $2.5M to $3M. The development around is required to offset the heritage expenses.

In Mr. DeSantis’s view, this massive condominium checked all the right boxes for design, mass and height, so it would fit nicely with the rest of the area. After all, as Mr. Ariens put it, “it’s not unusual have high density next to low density”. Why would Grimsby’s Main St. be an exception?

In the end, Mr. DeSantis said that he might change his proposal ahead of the Town’s Open House. Interesting to see if he really listened to the many voices who asked him to respect the Town’s Official Plan and zoning by-law for the area.

What's next?

Town’s Open house is scheduled for December 10th. Your comments at that meeting will be recorded and taken into account by the Town’s Planning staff, together with comments and analysis from other departments and agencies who review the application.

Because this development requires Zoning and Official Plan amendments, there will also be a Statutory Public Meeting where you’ll have another opportunity to make your concerns heard. Following this meeting, the Planning staff will write a recommendation report that will be evaluated by the Planning and Development Committee. A recommendation will be advanced to the Council, who will make their final decision on this development application. Council’s decision can be “approved”, “not approved” or “approved with conditions”.

Mr. DeSantis can revise his application after the Town’s Open House and then either accept Council’s decision, or reject it, in which case he can appeal it at LPAT.

What can you do?

Your presence and input at the Town’s public events are crucial. As is your public support for our cause to protect Main St. from this, and other similar developments that may arise. Ask for a yard sign to help us spread the word. More ways to show your support and to get heard will follow soon. Stay tuned.

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