Town urged to be ‘very detailed’ and ‘more proactive’ with developers

by | Oct 4, 2022

Town urged to be ‘very detailed’ and ‘more proactive’ with developers. Deputy mayor says development agreement allows Woodstock to set rules on traffic flow, parking and town’s infrastructure needs.

While Woodstock’s planning advisory committee (PAC) approved two variances clearing the way for the potential construction of a 75-unit apartment building in the downtown core, Deputy Mayor Amy Anderson reminded council it maintains strong oversight of the proposed development.

Anderson, who serves along with Coun. Jeff Bradbury as council representative on the PAC, shared several recommendations for council at the Sept. 27 council meeting.

“I just want to make it clear to council what I think they should be aware of,” she said.

On Sept. 20, PAC approved zoning variances allowing ARC Development Group to exceed 18-metre height restrictions by approximately three metres for the six-storey building. It also approved a reduction of parking spaces from 95 to 84 spaces.
The developers propose the construction of the six-floor building with 73 apartments and two ground-floor retail units at 690 Main Street, the former Woodstock Baptist Church site.

With the variances in place, the developer meets zoning requirements.

Several residents spoke at the PAC meeting, raising concerns about the impact of the massive building on the neighbourhood.

“I feel council needs to be informed about some of the discussion and quotes that have been brought forward, especially involving parking, by the public at that meeting,” Anderson said. She said council and staff still maintain influence over the development.

“We have a purchase and sale agreement,” Anderson explained. “We have not yet finalized a development agreement.”
The deputy mayor outlined three recommendations regarding oversight of the downtown project and future developments.
She said the first step surrounded the developer’s agreement, recommending the town be “very detailed” in its development standards and maintenance expectations.

“Council needs to ensure that Richmond Street, in particular, is maintained adequately to accommodate the increase in traffic, and the future provisions for design, maintenance, and affordability are explicit,” Anderson wrote in her presentation to council.
Secondly, she encouraged council to direct staff to take a “more proactive” approach to managing parking in the vicinity.
She included five parking issues the town must address.

— Possible no parking signs on Prince Albert Street to enable traffic flow at all times of the year.
— Consider adding time limits on certain on-street parking in certain locations (e.g. 30-minute, two-hour parking, etc.).
— Having better wayfinding signage for the downtown that indicates the locations of all off-street public parking lots, so people know where to park if on-street spaces are full.
— Revisit Ability NB review of accessibility in downtown Woodstock. Where do we need to do better to ensure accessibility?
— Future planning for “snow ban” type events where on-street parking will be directed to a dedicated lot during snow events so that streets can be cleared effectively and the public/residents understand how to proceed. Especially important for overnight visitors to 690 Main during the winter months.

Thirdly, Anderson urged council members to direct staff to investigate the creation of a cost-charges bylaw for future consideration.
She said such bylaws exist in Moncton and probably other municipalities.
“With the amount of development in Woodstock increasing, it’s important that the true cost of the development be known and shared appropriately,” Anderson wrote in her submission.
Anderson said the town commissioned a downtown parking study around 2015 which should provide pertinent information for council and staff as they complete the developer’s agreement.
During council discussions, she said the town must also be aware of the level of affordability included in the project.
Councillors Bradbury and Trina Jones each pointed out the public appeared confused by the PAC meeting focused on variances and how it differed from a regular public hearing surrounding a rezoning.

“People misunderstood,” said Jones, noting many felt ignored.
Mayor Art Slipp suggested that all public meetings should clarify the goals, intent and process of the meeting.
“It would be helpful to have public hearing guidelines be read at the start of a PAC as the CAO reads it at the start of a public hearing,” he said.

Bradbury added some residents questioned him about the role of Jennifer Brown, a community planning consultant with Dillon Consulting, at the PAC meeting.

CAO Andrew Garnett explained Brown is under contract to the town as a community planner. He said she studied the developer’s plans and zoning requirements to establish necessary variances.
The church property development is one of two significant residential projects underway in Woodstock.
Toronto developer Belleterre Real Estate Properties Ltd. will host an open house at AYR Motors Centre Tuesday, Oct. 4, to lay out plans for its proposed development of the former Woodstock Middle School property.

Anderson pointed out the developer is hosting the open house but noted it would be the first of three chances the public has to view the proposed project. She said the PAC meeting would consider the rezoning request, and council would host a public meeting before it considers rezoning.

Deputy Mayor Amy Anderson advised Woodstock council and staff be “very detailed” and “more proactive” when finalizing the development agreement for the downtown property across from the Woodstock courthouse.

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