City and developer bet on appeal to break deadlock over blocked subdivision

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New housing projects in north east London, stalled for more than a decade, have led to an unusual turnaround at City Hall – a developer, city staff and politicians agree all to say that the project should appeal.

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Battles over divisive developments usually end in these kinds of challenges, with the council’s final decision being appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal. That project, a massive new subdivision that Drewlo Holdings hopes to build at 1140 Fanshawe Park Rd. E., hasn’t generated much debate.

He is already earmarked for appeal, even before he reaches council later this month, in what Drewlo planner Carrie O’Brien has told politicians is the ‘best course of action’ at this stadium.

“It’s quite rare. I’m trying to remember another situation since I was on the planning committee where the staff and the developer say, ‘Reject this app,'” Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis said at the planning committee meeting. planning for this week.

“We’ve heard the developer will be appealing and that’s the path they want to go down, so I’m happy to let them continue down that path.”

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The stumbling block is a wetland, which does not even exist according to some maps, after it was deemed “unworthy of preservation” in a previous appeal to the Provincial Court, then called the Commission of Ontario Municipal Affairs.

There is disagreement, however, over the importance of the wetland to the nearly 50 hectare site. Environmentalists, including those on City Hall’s Environmental and Green Planning Advisory Committee, were concerned about Drewlo’s plans when the development was first proposed in 2007.

Fifteen years later, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry still has the “Provincially Significant Wetland” on its maps, as does the London Plan. This led City Hall staff to recommend denying Drewlo’s request to rezone the land, and the planning committee echoed that stance in a unanimous vote this week.

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Another city councilor was less pleased.

“To me, this is a big development, a potential development, that has been waiting to be developed for a very long time,” the Ward 5 Coun said. Maureen Cassidy, representing the region.

Drewlo intends to appeal for definitive answers on the wetland, including its size, boundaries and significance, blocking development, which could provide hundreds of new homes, townhouses and apartment buildings up to six floors, plus space for new schools. and a new area to replace the wetland.

The developer is proposing different land on the site, in a one-to-one ratio, in a bid to offset the wetland, a decision O’Brien said would “allow us to create quality wetlands, attracting a variety of species”. and improving biodiversity in the region.

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But neither the town hall nor the council have the power to authorize this move. Provincial policies state that development and site alteration cannot occur in Significant Wetlands or “ecological regions”.

“The (city) staff are pretty much paralyzed here. Under provincial policy, we cannot move a provincially significant wetland, and that makes sense,” Cassidy said.

Yet confusion around the wetland is delaying construction of new housing in an area “well within the limits of urban growth”, she added.

O’Brien told politicians that Drewlo would “look forward to a resolution in the future thanks to the appeal of the OLT”.

The application to rezone the property will go to the full council on May 24.

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