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Drafts for two Wellington sub-divisions in planning review

View of entrance to the proposed Fields of Wellington from Consecon Street.

Story by Sharon Harrison
Draft plans for two large sub-divisions in Wellington to spring up over the next two decades are under planning review and will soon come to council for decisions on moving forward.

Up for discussion, at the recent council planning committee meeting, was a draft plan of sub-division and zoning bylaw amendment for Wellington Bay Estates, as well as an Official Plan Amendment, draft plan of sub-division and zoning bylaw amendment for Fields of Wellington Inc.

While the public was allowed to attend in person in limited numbers at the Regent Theatre, members of the public wishing to deliver comments were encouraged to do so via Zoom. While 15 people had registered to speak, either in person or via Zoom, only a handful delivered comments.

Wellington Bay Estates
The proposed sub-division by Wellington Bay Estates of 176 lots sits at the east end of the village of Wellington. The east boundary of the sub-division is the village boundary which is north of Main Street.

The site is currently zoned R1-8 which allows for single family dwellings of a certain lot frontage and area. The developer said a zone change from R1 to R2 will allow for some semi-detached dwellings.

The developers are requesting an amendment in the southwest corner (the linear walkway and open space) and the block west of that (storm water pond) so the lands would work in conjunction with the storm water facility. There are five zones being requested in the application.

There will be a major road running north-south with roads to the west, as well as two road connections to the west for future consideration, and road connections to the north in the next phase.

Wellington Bay Estates president, Martin Mazierski, said they are an active developer and builder in Prince Edward County for over 20 years, with properties in Wellington and Picton.

“We have been working with County staff since about 2017 to design something that fits in well with the community,” said Mazierski. “This whole community is designed with public roads, wide right of ways and we are going to have sidewalks on every road, and double sidewalks on all the collector roads.”

Wellington Bay Estates’ intent is for the proposed development to blend in well with the surrounding community.

“It was very important not to have the community closed off and I think we have done a good job of making sure it connects well to the adjoining community,” he said.

Mazierski noted than after the initial filing in 2017, there has a major redesign of the whole proposal.

“One of the main things that we came back with after that redesign, a linear parkette running from north to south across the project that is on a wide right of way, the Main Street running through the sub-division. The purpose of that is to connect Main Street to the Millennium Trail.”

He noted they have further lands north that connect to future development.

“The idea is to run that parkette that whole linear park which has a multi-use path running all the way through the current development and the future development to connect the rest of the town to the Millennium Trail through our community,” Mazierski said.

On the southwest end of the development there is a pond which was donated to the community by the County some time ago.

“That pond was supposed to serve the entire community as a storm water management pond strictly, but staff has asked for a more aesthetic aspect to add to the town of Wellington for the residents of Wellington.”

Extra blocks around it which aren’t lots will create extra space that will be given to the County to open up the area and to provide access to an aesthetic asset for the community.

“We are working very hard to create a nice multi-use path asset for the community and the zoning is one of the things that is controlling for that,” he stated.

Wellington Bay Estates also noted they have purchased a property on the water (West Lake) on the advice of staff to allow for a storm water management outlet to service not just their property, but for the town.

“The homes in this community will be attainable and if there is any doubt in our company’s dedication to provide attainable housing in the County, we are currently building 10 lots in Picton,” said Mazierski. “We are also going to be building 60 more lots like that in the town of Picton, and we are committed to contributing to attainable housing in the city.”

Questions from the public included issues about too much density and not enough green space.

“Developers are asking for density to be increased from the standard 14.5 units to 17.8 units, that’s a 22 per cent increase,” said one concerned resident. “That’s a big increase especially when the developer wants the street setbacks reduced by about 20 per cent, frontage reduced to 13 metres,” said William via Zoom. “An overly dense development needs green space for balance.”

He suggested the proposed community centre could instead be used for green space.

“Too much density with too little green space could have serious implications for this sub-division in the coming decades.”

Councillor Ernie Margetson read submitted comments from a Consecon area resident.

She noted the loss of green space and farmland was of concern, and highlighted climate change.

“Once our land is built on, it is gone forever,” she said. “I am concerned with the loss of land and the use of land for housing; we can’t keep building houses as we have been.”

Another concerned resident via Zoom took issue with the arborist’s report, which she said read, ‘He found no trees on the property of high significance, importance or value.’ I strongly disagree with that as there are some beautiful old maple trees, probably 100 years old and there is no mention of that in the report. The arborist goes on to say, ‘With regard to trees, it’s best to start over’.”

Wellington councillor Mike Harper asked, “Is the development a private community that is marketing essentially to seniors or is it more of an open community where anyone who is interested in living there could live there?”

He also asked if the proposed community centre was for the residents who only live in that immediate vicinity or could residents elsewhere in Wellington be using that community.

Staff responded by confirming it is a public community with public roads.

The developer added that they have requested zoning that would allow them to do a private community in the middle of the development on the northern end, which would be in the middle of all of their total lands.

Bloomfield/Hallowell councillor Brad Nieman raised the issue of tree placement and their interference with underground infrastructure and whether trees would be on private property.

Sophiasburgh councillor Bill Roberts brought up affordable attainable housing in the County, something that was discussed at the presentation in September, he said.

“We were told that affordable housing was very much part of the agenda and if this Wellington project went ahead, 25 low-cost semis or townhouses would be built in Picton. They would start somewhere in the $250,000-$259,000 range and there would be a rollout of rental apartments in Wellington starting at the $1,000 or $1,100 per month range. Is that what we still talking about?” asked Roberts.

The developer confirmed construction has started on the Picton proposal projects on 10 of the homes. He confirmed there would be 26 in total in Picton.

“The homes didn’t end up in the $250,000 range,” confirmed Mazierski.

He cites things took longer to get approved, market prices have changed, coronavirus and supplies being more expensive as reasons for the price hike.

“All those houses are currently starting under $300,000; I believe they start at $279,000.”

He said the rental apartment idea was up for discussion when they had a partner, which they appear not to now have, and confirmed the idea is on hold due to coronavirus.

“Right now, there is a less defined plan for doing some density there,” he said.

Councillor Harper had concerns about there being only one road for the 179 units coming onto Main Street, and asked if Main Street could handle the volume.

Staff confirmed the completed traffic report proposes a turning lane on Main Street that would require work on Main Street, but no signalization. Staff also confirmed the work would be covered by the developer.

Picton councillor Phil St-Jean raised the issue of affordability and asked for starting price points. The developer would not predict what prices would be two years from now, but added, “The houses will be attainable, but not subsidized.”

Mazierski wouldn’t commit to a price range when prompted again by St-Jean, but suggested $300,000-$400,000 would be likely.

Fields of Wellington
The proposed sub-division known as Fields of Wellington is owned by Alan Hirschfield who was present in person.

Consultant Ryan Guetter said the lands, just over four hectares, are situated north of the Millennium Trail having frontage on Consecon Street and are situated next to the proposed Kaitlin development.

He said the lands are within the urban centre, the neighbourhood development area and the proposal is a neighbourhood concept plan together with an official plan amendment, zoning bylaw amendment and sub-division application.

“We are contemplating an integrated community that would be subject to several phases, beginning with keen access to Consecon Street and some of the other road connections,” said Guetter.

He said Fields of Wellington are looking at a variety of unit types, townhomes, midrise and apartment configuration units.

“We included from two meetings some of the innovative ideas we have come up with both in terms of housing style and what we are trying to achieve is quite unique and both complementary to the rich history of Wellington, but also progressive in coming up with some new ideas,” Guetter said.

Fields of Wellington will be a phased development over multiple years and will be sensitive to sustainable design features.

He said they wanted growth to occur in a managed way and will allow for an incremental phasing of development to occur.

The Millennium Trail will be used as a key recreational spine, he said.

The sub-division is expected to take 10-20 years to complete.

Audience questions raised concerns about water and storm water, traffic, the need for more green space and the lack of access to West and Wharf Streets during construction. Dealing with noise, dirt and dust for 10 years also came up. It was also suggested the projects should be carbon neutral.

Wellington councillor Mike Harper asked, “How does your concept dovetail with the village, it feels like an extension as opposed to a traditional sub-division?”

“We started with wanting to tie into the village,” said Hirschfield. “That’s why we wanted to have West and Wharf Streets continuing on in an organic way, but the residents on Wharf Street did not want a vehicular connection and we have agreed to that, but we are providing a multi-use trail connection through to the village,” he said.

“The idea is for people to walk to the village, not to get into a car and drive there.”

South Marysburgh councillor John Hirsch asked Hirschfield about the 60-unit midrise buildings.

“We would like to be able to produce a mid-rise rental building that was aimed at seniors, a decent size but not too big, with a covered garage,” said Hirschfield.

Picton councillor Phil St-Jean addressed density.

“Density is 14.5 under the secondary plan, you are looking at 15 units per hectare, have you looked at increasing density?”

Hirschfield said they would be happy to do that, but it depends on available capacity.

St-Jean also addressed the proposal for secondary units and the problem the County is currently facing with STAs, especially whole home STAs.

“STAs popping up in any new development is self-defeating,” said St-Jean. “Will you be in favour of a ban on STAs in the development?”

Hirschfield replied, “Yes, absolutely.”

He stated it was their intention to provide loose fit housing, so for example, a young couple could rent out an apartment above for additional income to help pay a mortgage, but is not intended as short-term accommodation.

Staff will consider all comments and provide council with a report on recommendations.

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  1. Matt says:

    These bureaucrates who are paid by us working stiffs are not the ones losing work and money. So many local contractors depend on these builds to feed families and pay bills. There’s so much more potential for growth. Approve the sub divisions so we can get back to work before some of these builders decide to leave the county and build elsewhere. Concerned local entrepreneur

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