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Huycks Bay Estates proposal races against time before County policy changes

By Sharon Harrison
Developers proposing a project on Hyucks Point Road are racing to file applications before significant policy changes in Prince Edward County come into effect July 6.

Details were revealed last week by planner and project co-ordinator Ray Essiambre, of Ray Essiambre and Associates, at a virtual public consultation on behalf of the developers.

Councillor Ernie Margetson clarified with Essiambre, the proposal was a vacant land condo, except on those parcels of land that are successfully severed through the consent process.

“It is not a planned sub-division, it is a vacant land condo; it’s a sub-division process, but ending up as a vacant land condo application,” confirmed Margetson.

Margetson also noted the lot layout and the number of lots is conceptual at this point.

A vacant land condo, sometimes known as a bare land condo, is a piece of land, usually bare but not always, where the construction of homes take place. A corporation can register the land and sell it before any building takes place with this type of ownership arrangement.

The site, referred to as Huyck Bay Estates, located at 1092 Huycks Point Road, in the County’s western corner, covers about 125 acres (49-50 hectares). It is situated on the lake side with water frontage on Huycks Bay and has frontage on Huycks Point Road.

The 49-hectare site proposal contains 12 lots, varying in size, from approximately 0.8 to 1.5 hectares (lots 1 to 7), 32 hectares (lot 10) and 5 hectares (lot 9).

Essiambre describes the layout as “simple and influenced considerably by the natural environment there”.

The land owner and applicant, who recently purchased the property, are Belleville residents Jay Christopher and Leah Jensen (in attendance), one a contractor and one a real estate agent. A numbered company is also owners and are believed to be investors only.

Councillors Margetson and Phil St-Jean were in attendance, along with Essiambre team member Treat Hull.

Around 45 participants joined the virtual meeting which lasted about an hour-and-a-half.

Essiambre provided a brief overview of the proposed development and explained the concept before opening up the floor to questions and comments, of which there were many.

This project is in its very early stages of preliminary design and has undergone a pre-consultation meeting with County staff. Various studies required have been initiated and are under way.

Essiambre said zoning would need to be amended on the property, probably a special RR2 zone, noting zoning bylaw would need to be “customized for this property”.

In terms of location to nearby properties, on the west side of the property there is some waterfront residential development on Huycks Bay Road, and some irregular lots also to the west – some are developed, but most are not. South of Huycks Point Road, there are a string of waterfront residential developments.

“Immediately to the east is a rural residential development and a farm,” Essiambre said. “A significant part of the property is designated EP (Environmental Protection) which extends past the boundary of the property,” said Essiambre, describing the site as “interesting”.

It contains a shoreline to the north on the lake, with hedgerows of significance, a wetland area and associated buffer.

Essiambre noted there would be a 30-metre buffer identified for the wetland, a wetland he said that consumes a good part of the property.

Amy Bodman noted the new Official Plan indicates that at least part of the site is in a natural core area.

“That’s a part that the County especially wants to protect to keep development off of,” she said. “In the new Official Plan, it is my understanding the relationship between shoreland designation and natural core area is not clear and is yet to be clarified.”

She also pointed out that in the new Official Plan, all wetlands on Schedule B will now have a 50-metre buffer rather than a 30-metre buffer.

An existing gravel road accesses the property from Huycks Point Road from the south, going north through the property.

Essiambre noted the road would be a condominium road, so the County would not own the road or be responsible for maintaining it in the long term.

“That gives us some functional areas to work with,” said Essiambre, “and that’s where the developable areas are on the property,” he said.

Essimabre spoke to the Official Plan designation when it comes to shoreland properties.

“Within the shoreland designation, residential development is permitted by plan of sub-division and by consent, up until July 6, 2021,” Essiambre said. “After July 6, residential sub-divisions will no longer be permitted within the shoreland designation.”

He confirmed that consent when a lot is severed in a shoreland designation is still permitted after July 6, but no residential sub-division.

“We are involved in a horse race to get this application filed and approved by July 6,” Essiambre confirmed. “It’s a significant date and a significant policy change for the County.”

Essaimbe confirmed that while they are rushing to file the application, the process will take two to three years to complete.

“We have a long, long way to go before anything happens on the ground or council approves this plan.”

“It is going to be a very rural-type development and the size of the lots reflect the environment that’s there and the desire to protect and maintain the environment that’s on the site,” he said. “The idea is to keep the site as pristine as possible.”

Lots 8 to 10 would be accessed by an existing gravel road, where Essiambre said there would not be a standard rural road constructed on the site, but the gravel road would be used a private laneway which goes back to lots 10 and 11.

“There shouldn’t be any change to the wetland as a result of the development of lots 9 and 10 with respect to the road,” he said.

He confirmed lots 8 to 10 would all be subject to a 30-metre buffer.

Essiambre spoke to how the lots will get created, noting there are two possibilities.

“One is by consent or the severance process before July 6. The rules are you can create two lots prior to July 6. After July 6, only one lot or retained parcel can be created,” stated Essiambre.

He also noted that only two lots can be severed only if there has not been a previous severance on the property.

“It appears that this property can be severed through the consent process. Some of the parcels that were taken out were prior to 1998,” he said. “Whatever is not created through the severance process or consent process, they will be created by a planned sub-division.”

Questions from members of the public included concerns surrounding access through the wetland, the gravel road, environmental impacts, wells going dry, traffic density in a rural area, the removal of trees on the property, and the design of the buildings among them.

One comment from the public questioned the existing gravel road which is described as very rough and not suitable for residential use, so it would have to be re-built and how would that affect the wetlands.

Essiambre said the Conservation Authority had installed the road originally, along with two culverts.

He agreed it would have to be improved, but noted it would be a private road.

Andy Gustajtis asked if the plan was to build houses or just sell lots, where he enquired about price points and what kind of development it would be.

Essaimbre confirmed there would be a variety of homes where he thought the owner, who is a contractor, may build some homes himself, but lots would be for sale for other people. He also confirmed all the partners and owners want to build their principal residences on site, with the other lots available for sale to anyone else.

“I know there are plans for a substantial residence for one of the owners,” Essiambre said.

Tony Brebner asked if affordable housing was proposed and Essiambre confirmed it was not.

Niko Downie expressed concerns about the environmental impact and also noted Huycks Bay is a provincially-significant wetland.

“The entire northern triangle of the lot is EP and provincially-significant protected wetland, so how are you looking at the process for potentially beefing up the road, getting services in there and putting in substantial residences back there and septic and water services on this piece of land that is so protected? asked Downie.

Essiambre said there was typically a 30-metre setback from the water and a 30-metre setback from the wetland, so buffers on the northern and south side.

“Whatever is left behind, they can build their home,” he said.

Downie also noted the requirement with clustered sub-divisions for accessible park space.

Essiambre said under the Planning Act, a developer has to provide five per cent parkland dedication.

“Or they can provide cash-in-lieu of parkland.” Essiambre said. “The County could take the cash-in-lieu to develop a park somewhere else where it is more needed.”

“This is a really significant topic for discussion,” Downie noted.

A comment from Joseph, said that with a development of this scale being proposed within his neighbourhood, it was important that a parkland dedication should be provided within the neighbourhood and not taken as cash-in-lieu.

“There is a significant need for parkland to serve our own community,” Joseph said.

“This whole process is being rushed to beat the Official Plan,” said Gerry. “What is the hurry?”

Larry Barrett said, “It seems like a very dense and very aggressive use of this land, and I don’t really have a clear idea of what actually is going to end up on those severed proprieties.”

Robert McAuley made reference to the large block of treed land on the property that will affect at least four lots.

“I’d hate to see about 50 per cent of the area which is treed being wiped out for the sake of building lots,” McAuley said.

“In the developable area, there are no trees except a couple of hedge rows,” said Essiambre, who noted the owners are planning on planting more trees as many of the lots are devoid of trees currently.

Barry was also concerned about the trees, particularly on the two largest lots, which will have to be removed.

He also asked if rezoning will permit a secondary residence on the site for each primary residence.

Treat Hull confirmed any zoning allows for a second dwelling, and he said there is not a specific unit size, provided it can be serviced and it meet the setbacks.

“Potentially, we are talking 24 residences on this site?” commented Barry.

Martin Gravel made mention of the lands in question being farmed.

“Are theses considered prime agricultural lands and would council object to the loss of these agricultural lands to residential?” asked Gravel.

Essiambre said the lands are designated shoreland and are not designated prime agricultural in the Official Plan.

“The reason they are farmed is an interim use, until such time the development application is brought forward,” he said.

Hull said these lands in both the old and new Official Plan are designated shoreland.

“The County wants tourism and it wants resorts cited shoreland,” said Hull. “Another use, rather than the number of houses we have under discussion, another use would for somebody to put a resort there, so even if single family residences don’t go forward, other forms of development much more intensive are consistent with both Official Plans.”

Kevin, a life-long resident, said the site was a wildlife area and also noted that lot 8 floods every year.

“We are all worried about the wells. We are all fed by Huyck’s Bay and the wells depend on the height of the bay. Could they handle it?”

 

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Mike – I can understand your upset – it upsets me as well. The problem is multi-layered – – – first, by law, municipal councils have to “fairly” deal with requests for development – not approve them, but “deal” with such requests. Secondly, in our political system developers and money carry a lot of weight – it undermines the system. The public pay to have both council and staff in place to protect their interests and to do the right thing by dealing with development requests, as outline in the Planning Act. We know that some development is good for a community and it can be beneficial – this does not happen often enough and rightfully the public don’t trust the system. Who hasn’t been burned by it at some time in their life? What greatly complicates it even more is now the province has this new special zoning panel, which can and has overturned municipal councils’ decisions across the province in favour of the developers. Money talks in Ontario! The system has become entirely money oriented and not oriented towards what is best for the community – good planning! The system has become a farce and con game.

    The only way for our community to protect PEC is for residents to organize and to fight back!

  2. Mike Rodgers says:

    The official plan is a joke, we as tax payers spend thousands on a plan for land usage just to have planned usages reversed by development. When we no longer have food to eat and never see a bird , bee or deer remember the official plan. Remember seeing barn swallows by the hundreds rest on power lines. Not amore, just one reason enough is enough.

  3. Julia says:

    Sad what this place is becoming. It is becoming a resort town. No schools, no affordable housing, no access to water, can not go to the park without booking a day pass lots, have to pay for parking, moving shopping to big box stores, lots of STAs and destroying ecological habitat. By the way settlement areas were defined 30 years ago, needs a reevaluation. And most of the new development is just ugly to look at. High density starting at 400k. That is a disaster. Sad in Picton.

  4. Chuck says:

    Thinking our small municipality can provide affordable housing (whatever that is) is folly. Owners of rural farmland should be able to be allowed one build without hassles. Do we own the land or just lease it from the County?

  5. Dennis Fox says:

    The County is experiencing “attention” from the development community – just as have a lot of other towns and cities over the last 50 years. The challenge is going to be for us to control it in a manner they we want – not what the developers want! Their nature is to build as many as possible and to cram them as close together to maximize profits. This new housing push will in no way address our affordable housing problem – I suspect it will increase the price of housing everywhere here.

    Council’s challenge will be to slow things down so the public can become part of the process – and not just an online process either! We need staff who know how to play hard ball with developers – it is all about the money – so delays are the last thing they want – so the public have a real role to play here – if council allows them to.

    The biggest problem we will face is the new provincial zoning panel that can over-ride municipal zoning decisions – this is capable of undermining all local decisions – so be prepared to lobby our MPP and Queen’s park if you want really protect our quality of life in PEC. The new world order for development is not on the side of the taxpayers nor local values and decision making.

  6. Dee says:

    It is up to each and everyone of us to keep a vigilant watch on development proposals that have potential to remove farmland for development and ones that impact our environment. Of course developers want water views and open land to develop, Their only mandate is a profit. If we need housing, develop it in settlement areas, not in rural areas. The County should stop opening their arms to any development for land based tax benefit, and set the bar higher when developers come knocking. Look to our official plan’s vision. Start enforcing it from the beginning and be willing to say, “No. This is not the kind of development we want. If you want to come here, this is the type of development we want. ” DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN THIS “HORSE RACE” Just look at how many developments are in the wings that impact not only our water sources, our wetlands and our natural habitats, but also are totally ignoring our natural and cultural heritage and our OP vision. . We have to be willing to stand up and let the County know, at the early stages, what we are willing to accept. Stop the ask before it comes to application stage. We have to be able to offer solutions as well. We need more development within settlement areas, and less in rural areas where wetlands and natural habitats are at risk.

  7. Gary says:

    Developers purchase because there is a demand for such property. This development probably moves forward.

  8. County crazed says:

    Why do people want to destroy this place? Maybe developers shouldn’t buy land near significant wetlands. I wish someone would stand up for our environment here and push these developers away

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