By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner
Five storeys bad, three storeys good.
That was the message Allandale neighbours gave to Barrie councillors Monday about a proposed apartment development on Cumberland Street.
City council delayed a decision until April 29 on rezoning 140, 142, 144, 148 and 152 Cumberland St., needed to build two residential buildings – one 12 units and three storeys, the second 28 units and five storeys.
Coun. Arif Khan, who represents this part of Barrie, said two more weeks of talks with the developer, neighbours and planning staff could save a trip to the Ontario Municipal Board – which decides contentious local government issues.
“It’s apparent there is still some room to talk here,” he said. “The alternative is, one way or the other, this will go to the OMB.”
“It’s in everyone’s interests to try to talk it through,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “I hope there will be some flexibility shown by both sides.”
This nearly one-acre property has 100 metres of frontage along Cumberland, and is located south of Lakeshore Drive and east of Bayview Drive.
Michael Jack lives at nearby 129 Cumberland, which dates back to 1882, and is opposed to a five-storey building in his neighbourhood.
“(I) am extremely concerned of the precedent it will establish for future residential buildings that could be built in the historic Allandale neighbourhood in the future,” he said.
Jack said neighbours are not afraid to take this development to the board.
“We’ll take this to the OMB and see how things play out there,” he said. “We are quite confident of taking that course of action again.”
Bill Scott, co-chair of the Allandale Neighbourhood Association, says it is opposed in principle to council approving a five-storey building so close to Allandale’s heritage area.
“If this application were approved, it would set a precedent which would be invoked by other developers whose properties could be adjacent or even within the dominantly single-family parts of Allandale,” he said.
Scott says the association’s concerns are intensified because the city staff report identifies parts of Cumberland Street and Burton Avenue as candidates for similar high-density developments. These properties hold century buildings now.
He also mentioned traffic and parking concerns. Scott estimates traffic would double on Cumberland with this development.
Khan acknowledged the message changed following a recent town hall meeting with the ANA on these development plans.
“Based on the feedback from that meeting. . .there was positive feedback,” he said. “That message was brought back to staff. Why the change?”
Scott noted that while the ANA has extensive membership, not all of them attend the meetings.
“We got a flood of e-mails that objected to the precedent,” he said. “There is a very strong feeling that old Allandale has no five-storey buildings and we don’t want any of them.”
Last week Khan convinced councillors to include facade setbacks on the fourth and fifth storeys of the larger building. He said the developer, a numbered Ontario company, was willing to work with city planners on the setbacks or tiered building of the larger apartments.
The developer’s plans for these properties are two-fold.
First is for an addition to the existing three-storey, six-unit walkup apartment – turning it into a 12-unit building with no increase in height at 148/152 Cumberland. The existing structure could either be refurbished or the building could be constructed from scratch.
Second would be a new five storey, 28-unit apartment building at 140/142/144 Cumberland, although it would require a break from zoning bylaw standards. This includes a reduced landscaping buffer and fewer parking spaces.
Currently on the properties are three single-family homes and the six-plex.
Khan has said two of the houses are in a dilapidated state and are not salvageable.
A public meeting last September resulted in concerns about increased traffic and parking caused by the project, that five storeys are out for character with the neighbourhood and could set a precedent, and that existing infrastructure would need to be upgraded if it is built. There were also concerns it doesn’t comply with the Historic Neighbourhood Strategy.
City planning staff say the development is consistent with city and provincial intensification policies, would compliment the surrounding residential uses and fits with the neighbourhood’s character.
The two buildings would also result in more than $660,000 in development charges for city coffers.
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