OMB sides with developer in fight over estate lots next to
industry, sewage plant
2139549 Ontario Ltd. (Nottawasaga River Estates) has won its appeal to
the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and secured approval to build 160
residential units on CW Leach Road and to relocate the parkland in a
more centralized location within the proposed draft plan of subdivision.
The decision was issued on January 16 and provides for the Official
Plan amendment and rezones lands legally described as Part of Lot 8,
Concession 14 from Agricultural (A1) Zone to Urban Residential (UR2)
and Open Space (OS) in order to implement the proposed draft plan of
As a result, the Town, represented by Jay Feehely, had to commission an
outside planning consultant to help defend council's decision. The OMB
was asked to rule on only two proposals: the original 60-lot "high-end"
estate homes initially approved in 2006, or the proponent's amendment
seeking to increase the development to 160 mixed residential units.
"The Board has carefully considered all the evidence, and the able
submissions of counsel. The Board has also had regard for the decision
of Council, and the information on which it was based. On review,
however, the Board finds that it cannot endorse Council's position.
Despite the eloquence of the arguments favouring the status quo, the
Board is compelled to make the changes proposed by the applicant,"
according to the ruling.
"The proposal represents intensification, supported by Provincial
policy; but that is not the main reason the Board endorses it. Nor does
the Board take issue, in principle, with Council's desire to maintain a
niche for "estate lots" in Alliston. The problem is location - luxury
development between an industrial area and a sewage plant. Even if that
insertion were appropriate (which is at least counterintuitive), it is
inconsistent with the formal OP direction that this development should
represent "transition" between the industrial area and the
higher-density condominium development next door. The Board finds that
the status quo does not do that; the proposal does. ......
What was surprising was the location. "Upscale" development is often
planned to capitalize on some amenity - a view, a golf course, water
access etc. in this case, the predominant views (background) would be
of a Walmart, a car factory, an industrial area, and a sewage plant. In
the foreground, as the applicant's planner observed, "the vistas and
views are going to be of industrial rooftops. In his witness statement,
the applicant's planner raised questions about the plausibility of
marketing 72-foot luxury lots here, abutting manufacturing. It would be
at least counterintuitive. Town planning staff, for its part, had
originally reported that it too was "concerned" about that question. It
is a concern which the Board shares. Counsel for the Town countered
that there was no proof that estate lots in this location would
represent an awkward fit. However, the fact that the Beamish plan did
not proceed is, in and of itself, a factor from which inferences may be
drawn. The Board was unconvinced that the perceived erosion of housing
choice was immediate or real."