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Rezoning to allow affordable housing on Disraeli Street

Council is agreeable with a re-zoning application presented at Wednesday’s planning committee meeting to allow an affordable apartment building on Disraeli Street.

The re-zoning application is a municipality-initiated re-zoning on behalf of the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation (PECAHC) which currently owns the land located at 29 Disraeli St., – transferred as surplus from the municipality for $2 in June 2022.

Proposed is a 12-unit, four-storey apartment building for the purpose of affordable housing to consist of six bachelor units (450 square feet each) and six one-bedroom units (600 square feet each), to be operated by the PECAHC.

The application changes re-zoning from I (Institutional) zone to R3-74 (Special Urban Residential Type 3).

The R3-74 zoning will permit a reduced front yard setback, reduced interior side yard setback, reduced landscaped open space area, reduced parking requirements, and a reduced setback to a private right-of-way.

Introducing himself as a close neighbour (living directly behind the proposed development in the only owned property nearby), one member of the public expressed concerns about the building height with objection to the four storeys proposed.

“We have received zero communications regarding the proposed project,” he said. “We have spent some time seeking the opinions of people on our own street (Gladstone) and the adjacent renters on Disraeli, who incidentally felt they were not at liberty to express their opinions out of fear of eviction.”

He said concerns generally of close neighbours were to increased traffic, noise and crime, but he said most understand the housing shortage and the need for affordable housing, noting the site is an understandable density location.

It is the height of four storeys that he describes as “unreasonable”, noting it will be almost 50-feet tall.

“It will be comparable or taller to the Wellington arena, overlooking single family homes, where it is not only our discomfort of being overshadowed by a building of this scale, but it is simply not practical to build such a tall building on such a small footprint.”

He noted many comparable affordable housing units in residential areas in other places were often three storeys, with one level slightly below grade and two storeys above.

“This is a very economical way to build and maintain medium-density housing; there are significant differences in construction when you build four storeys, including foundation requirements meaning piles driven deeper into the bedrock.”

He also questioned how, in the event of a fire, a ladder truck could maneuver around a building and 15 parking spaces in a 60-foot wide lot.

Municipal planner Dale Egan confirmed notice was given to all adjacent property owners within 120 metres of the proposed development through a Canada Post mail out.

Councillor Ernie Margetson reminded that the meeting was about re-zoning, not establishing what will be built there, at this point.

Councillor Phil St-Jean added the design of the building will require a public meeting to look at the concept drawings, etc, agreeing Wednesday’s meeting is just a first step.

The Disraeli Street affordable housing development is a partnership between the PECAHC and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

“Fifty per cent of the units developed are to be dedicated to indigenous youth between the ages of 18-30 that are registered on the centralized waitlist of Mohawks Bay of Quinte for affordable housing,” stated Egan in his report to council.

“The 12 units will be rented at an affordable rate which will be relative to the area,” he said.

The ground floor will comprise of covered parking and common amenity space (lobby, entrance, mailboxes, laundry). Parking allocation for this development is reduced given the location of the property which is within walking distance to many existing amenities in Picton’s downtown core and adjacent industrial park.

The property, currently vacant, is located at the end of Disraeli, approximately 500 metres from Picton’s downtown and 490 metres from the industrial park, adjacent to the fairgrounds.

The property is located on the periphery of existing development on Disraeli Street and while municipal water and wastewater services exist along Disraeli Street, it does not extend to this property.

“The proposed development has proposed to extend the municipal water and waste water services to the site,” noted Egan. “The end of Disraeli Street will need to be formally assumed by the municipality and brought into the road network through a formal bylaw, and will also require the municipality to upgrade and construct this portion of the required road to municipal standards.”

The costs for the work would be part of the grant funding the PECAHC has received for the project.

The zoning bylaw is expected to be ratified by council at the Aug. 16 council meeting.

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