Norfolk council will receive legal advice before ruling on a proposed eight-storey apartment complex at the corner of Queen Street North and Kars Street in Simcoe.
The proposed location is at the north end of the former American Can property, which fronted onto Robinson Street at the intersection of Queen Street.
The former Can property was demolished 10 years ago. Built in its place was an office complex which houses county staff, several county departments, and the county’s Provincial Offences court.
The application is complicated because the numbered company behind the proposal also serves as the county’s landlord on Robinson Street.
During the April 6 meeting of Norfolk’s public hearing committee, Vittoria Coun. Chris VanPaassen pointed out that the municipality is engaged in a legal dispute with the applicant over the terms of the county’s long-term lease.
“Wouldn’t that put the county in the position of a conflict-of-interest if we’re even looking at this application?” VanPaassen asked. “Should we not get some legal advice before we even entertain comments on this?”
VanPaassen and others are concerned because the applicant – 2273925 Ontario Inc. – has asked for relief from the county parking requirement among other considerations.
As well, the county has heard numerous concerns from nearby residents. Council and staff suggested Tuesday that good planning will – at the least — require design modifications.
“I’m a big fan of dense infill,” said Simcoe Coun. Ryan Taylor. “I think all of us on council are. It’s the most efficient use of this space. But I don’t think we do density at all costs. My concern comes from the single-storey, two-storey (homes) on the other side of the street.”
Simcoe has a history of low-rise development due to firefighting limitations. With the arrival of aerial pumpers and the like, the town has opened up in recent decades to high-rise apartment buildings.
In response to the 174-unit proposal, nearby residents have shared concerns over shadowing, loss of backyard privacy, increased traffic and competition for parking spaces, and the incompatibility in general of tall buildings next to low-rise neighbourhoods.
Speaking on behalf of the developer was T.J. Ciecura of Design Plan Services in Etobicoke. Ciecura assured council that the proposal – which includes ground-floor commercial uses and a seniors’ home or long-term care facility – is flexible and that the proponents are eager to work with county planners to address concerns.
A search of corporate records through the Ministry of Government Services says 2273925 Ontario Inc. is based at 847 Charlotteville Road 10 west of Simcoe. Also located at this address is the Woodside Greens Golf Course.
The search lists Ferdinand Sanders and Nadia Petrivska as co-presidents. Sanders is also listed as secretary and treasurer. Svitlana Khodyryeva of Milton is listed as a director. The numbered company was registered in 2011.
Following the April 6 hearing, the application was returned to planning staff for a final report, with recommendations.
County staff said a legal opinion on council’s participation should be available next week. If the county’s secondary role as a tenant is a problem, Van Paassen suggested contracting out management of the application to an independent planning firm may be a possible solution.