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Developers propose ‘Fields of Wellington’ housing development

Residents were invited to a community open house to discuss the proposed “Fields of Wellington” project

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Local residents learned about plans for a potential massive re-development of a parcel of land steps from Wellington’s downtown.

About 40 residents braved blowing snow and bitter cold wind Monday to attend a three-hour open house at the Wellington and District Community Centre.

Participants heard a brief introduction by the planners, remarks by the land owners’ representative and slide-show presentation. Following was an engagement session with breakout discussions at each table to brainstorm ideas.

An outline of the proposed redevelopment with notes, photographs and drawings were provided on display boards located around the room.

Representing the land owners, the meeting was led by planning and urban design company, Weston Consulting of Vaughan. Ryan Guetter, senior vice-president and Andrew Everton, senior planner shared the vision of what their client would like to add to the existing village of 1,700 inhabitants.

In attendance were other team members from Weston Consulting, representatives of the land owners, transportation consultants, County staff as well as Wellington councillor Mike Harper and Hillier councillor Ernie Margetson.

“I want to indicate very clearly to you that tonight is a meeting intended to be a voluntary meeting, it’s what is called non-statutory, so it doesn’t represent any sort of formality in the process and there are no applications that have been submitted for the land,” said Guetter.

“It’s very much about engagement and this is not the end of the line, but rather it’s the very start,” he said. “We want you to help us identify some things that would be important to you. We will then take that feedback and it will help shape our minds as we move forward in a planning process that will have many more steps that will engage with you further.”

The 110 acres of land that make up ‘The Fields of Wellington’ are situated north of the village and border the Millennium Trail to the south and Consecon Street to the west. It was noted 80 acres would be used for the development.

Representing the owners of the proposed development were Alan Hirschfield and wife Beth Johnson.

“We design together and we are here to get your input and hear what you have to say,” said Hirschfield. “We think now is the time to start considering the development. It’s appropriate and there seems to be a range of housing that is necessary for the County. We look at it really as natural growth to the County and we have tried to replicate the street grid that is south of the Millennium Trail in the village and just bring it up north.”

The development, he said, would be phased-in over 10 or 12 years. “We want to do an arrangement that makes the most sense and has the most flexibility for various kinds of housing as the village grows.”

Hirschfield wants to link the development to the existing street system, so some of the streets are narrower than modern standards. “We will work with the County to make them work, to ensure that we are not all dependent on Consecon Street to access Main Street. We want to connect through Wharf and West Street as well. We want to encourage pedestrian and bike connections and not everything by car.”

A large central common of about four acres is proposed and there is a lot of green space next to the Millennium Trail. Hirschfield said they will be asking the trail association and community how best to develop that.

“Bike lanes and walkways are at the heart of our concept,” he said. “On our main thoroughfares, we have the width to have double trees with a sidewalk down the middle and trees either side, so that way we replace as many trees as we can.”

A large amount of the development would have the old-fashioned version of rear lane garages said Hirschfield, so the fronts of many of the houses don’t have garages.

A new road would run east to west along the top of two properties, between The Fields of Wellington property and the Kaitlin property to the east.

Hirschfield said they are working closely with neighbouring developers to ensure a consistent servicing plan.

“The new road would draw some of the traffic that doesn’t want to be on Main Street, but wants to move east-west without some of the summer traffic, so we are providing new methods of moving around without adding additional traffic.”

Roads would be wide enough to at least park on one side, so there would be adequate parking. “We will not be bringing any additional parking demand into the existing neighbourhoods,” said Hirschfield.

While building design is still in its very early stages, Hirschfield is looking at a modern approach to design compatible with the community, but also the local historic context.

“We want to pay attention to the past and use the elements like the bay windows and the entrances and the proportion to keep the entrances to the houses nice and low, and not 10 or 12 steps up, which you often see these days.”

Houses would be built without basements, mainly because they are building on rock. Loft storage spaces would be provided instead. Compatible building materials commonly found throughout the County, such as brick and siding are to be used, as well as window proportions and simple roofs and so on.

It is hoped the mix will contain attainable, less expensive housing and different forms that will match what the County needs.

“To reiterate, this plan is meant to grow over time,” said Hirschfield. “In our discussions with the County planners, we have indicated that we want to have a flexible plan put in place so that three or five years from now if there is a different housing demand, we can accommodate that within the structure that we are contemplating.”

Andrew Everton, senior planner with Weston Consulting reiterated that it is long-term project, implementing what is in the Wellington Secondary Plan and Prince Edward County Official Plan.

“Because we are attached to the existing built-up area on the Consecon Street side, we want to provide a natural extension of this; a natural evolution of the village,” he said. “We also want to be aware of the other elements, such as supporting Main Street commercial activity, being mindful of the tourism that comes to town and to integrate with our surrounding neighbours.”

Everton said the vision is to have an organic development that extends the village and not one that isolates it and indicated they may allow for some new commercial spaces in the area, but didn’t want it to detract away from Main Street.

Considerations for discussion included seniors housing, a local convenience store, purpose-built short-term housing, low-scale apartments, multiplexes and so on. The development would include a four-acre park at some point.

Suggestions for improved streetscapes were planters, benches, a tree canopy, unique paving, and promoting accessibility. The plan also includes a west-east, north-south multi-use trail.

Everton noted the relationship to the cemetery, saying they wanted to be sensitive to that, especially regarding landscaping.

“With growth comes pressure on community services,” he added. “As part of the study, we will be providing a community needs assessment,” and welcomed feedback on what types of services and amenities people want.

There would be a variation of sizes of lots over two phases, with the plan showing lot sizes ranging from 40 feet up to 60 feet.

“We want to see variety and interesting build form spread throughout,” said Everton. “We’ve got the rear garage, townhouse lot style, bungalow townhouse lot style, potential future mid-rise apartments.” He also mentioned a carriage house design which would offer a garage below and accommodation above.

Audience comments included the importance for seniors housing and the planner noted flexibility built into the plan for 400 units altogether, with phase one bringing 60 houses. They’re also concerned about building housing that keeps the school open.

“Wellington’s development has been characterized by seniors’ development and we didn’t want to do just seniors, so now it’s time to do seniors and other housing types – young people, families as well as seniors.”

One audience question spoke to the traffic pressure that would be put on Consecon Street by a development of this size.

Richard Pernicky, president of Nextrans Consulting Engineers said a transportation impact study key is the east-west collector which will take a lot of traffic away from the west side and take it to Belleville Road.

Guetter said this initial planning phase which will take place over the coming months to a year-and-a-half would be followed with a pre-selling of units.

Feedback from the round table discussions began with opportunities and constraints. One table noted the development would add to the tax base and help solve expensive water and waste water expenses and hoped affordable housing would keep young families in the community.

Barry Davidson said a mixed housing stock was attractive and suggested the community needs some kind of facility (such as a community centre-type building) and Wellington needs an indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre.

Others suggested competing with Trenton and Belleville real estate by providing properties at the $300,000 range that were smaller, at 1,500-square-foot to attract first home buyers.

Concerns about the Millennium Trail and preservation of wildlife habitat will also form part of an environmental study.

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  1. Miles says:

    The pastoral integrity of The County is being lost to the suburban sprawl of the GTA .
    The farmlands and natural areas along the western shores of The County ( which have yet to be developed into suburbia ) represent
    the last remnant of pastoral area found anywhere along the shores of Lake Ontario ( both in Ontario and New York State ) .
    This pastoral integrity is the fundamental quality of our heritage here in The County .
    It is what The County People value the most and it is what attracts most visitors to The County .
    Some visitors end up staying and adopt The County Way of Life
    and some visitors are interlopers whose interests belie The County Way of Life .
    If there is to be suburban sprawl ( such as in ‘ The Fields of Wellington ‘ development and the ‘ Country Club Estates of Wellington ’ development ) ,
    then I suppose the question is … How many of the new people taking up residence in The County will adopt to the The County Way of Life ?
    Otherwise ; that which we have traditionally valued for 230 years will quickly vanish and be replaced by those urban and suburban values of the GTA

  2. Janet says:

    Personally, I prefer the individuality of the “old houses”. Housing developments have no individuality nor personality. “Little boxes made of ticky tac, and they all look just the same”! A line from an old song, and very true today! Just my opinion!

  3. Nigel sivel says:

    Bob Clute makes a great point. I would love to see Habitat for Humanity involved in the project, an organization that has a proven track record in the County with four homes completed since 2005.

  4. Vicky says:

    2 questions, will the development effect the dump. And will you pls consider bringing high speed internet down to the end of Danfoth Rd. Which links with Consecon St.

  5. Bob Clute says:

    Alan
    Where was Habitat for Humanity in your discussions and/or plans? Affordable home ownership is a Habitat model with monthly mortgage payments of 25% including taxes & insurance.

  6. Alan Hirschfield says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I wanted to thank you for a comprehensive and remarkably accurate narrative of Monday evenings open house.

    Regards,
    Alan Hirschfield

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