Residents voice opinions on 16 build Habitat project

Kelly Snider
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DEVELOPMENT. It was mixed emotions from residents for the new 16-townhome build by Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa. A presentation was held on Nov. 19 at the Convent Glen-Orléans Wood Community Association (CGOWCA) meeting, to explain what will be taking part with this build.

Chown explaining the 16-townhome project.

It was a packed meeting at 255 Centrum Blvd., as Habitat for Humanity GO explained they  purchased a plot of land at Jeanne d'Arc Blvd. and Fortune Dr. and plan to build 16-townhome over an estimated three years.

The final purchase was made in October and the plan is to start building in late spring of next year.  The hope is to build four in the first year, four in the second year, and then eight in 2018.

The homes would take up the space of three blocks. Two blocks of homes will have four houses with the third block having eight homes.

One of the main concerns was zoning, which is one of two important aspects that the project needs to move forward. Along with zoning is the site plan application.

"I'm stuck on zonage. When I moved in it was a gas station. No one talked to us that this [build] was even being considered. Can the zoning be appealed?" asked a resident.

Julie Lebrun, a planner with the City of Ottawa said the zoning can't be appealed. She said the zoning for this site is already in place and has been since 2008.

The zoning for the property not only allows townhomes, but it allows even higher density such as stacked townhomes or an apartment building.

Murray Chown, a planner with Novatech Engineering who is involved with this project, said Habitat toyed with doing a 32 stacked townhomes for the site, which would also being within the allowed zoning.

Habitat decided to back away from that idea and continue with the 16-townhome plan.

Habitat will be submitting a site plan to the City of Ottawa and Lebrun said when a site plan complies with the zoning, there will be no more discussion regarding the zoning.

"If residents are going to say we don't like the use being proposed, that's where we will have to explain the zoning is already in place that would allow a planned unit development, with a private street," said Lebrun. "Beyond that it even allows apartments low rise, and stacked dwellings."

Lebrun added that a site plan application involving public consultation can take place, if comments related to the site itself, including fencing, parking, landscaping, etc.

"The city is holding the citizens hostage," said one resident after the discussion of the zoning.

Orléans Councillor Bob Monette then defended the project, explaining that the plan is just 16 units.

"Don't make it as we're putting a slum in this location. I find that insulting what you're saying. We had the same discussion on Tompkins….those units are there today, and everyone in the community loves those units."

This also related to the concern about property value. 

Kristin Harold, director of engagement with Habitat for Humanity GO, said when after building the homes on Nantes, which is across from homes valued at $400,000 and more, there is evidence that property value has not decreased.

One resident asked which part of the project will be done first.

"Something we are discussing with Habitat fist and we also want to speak with the immediate neighbours on the pros and con," said Chown.

Traffic was also a major issue.

"If a project doesn't [generate] 75 trips in the peak hour in the a.m. and the p.m., you don't have to do a traffic study. This project won't generate close to that," said Chown. "We haven't been asked to do a traffic study, but it doesn't mean we won't in the future."

However, Monette said he will make a request for a traffic study for Fortune and will have a public meeting for the study.

"As far as traffic calming measure, another $40,000 is coming for [the measures]. Something will be done for Fortune, just like I've done for Jeanne d'Arc."

Habitat staff explained that aspects like fencing, grass cutting, and snow removal will all be the responsibility of the homeowners.  The costs are part of the mortgage payments that the homeowners are required to pay through Habitat.

Chown reminded residents that children are like any other child in the area and will be using city owned areas, like the local play structure.

As well, when it comes to resale, Harold said Habitat reserves the right to buy back the house and keep as affordable housing.

The final approval for the families will be in December. Habitat hopes to be able to share who the families are by January, and having a ground breaking ceremony around late May.

Organizations: Novatech Engineering

Geographic location: Ottawa, Orléans

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