Long Sault housing development could face legal challenge

Two vacant lots on the south side of French Avenue in Long Sault, Ont. on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. Picture is taken looking east from Cherry Avenue. A developer is asking for a zoning change to allow two semi-detached homes instead of two single homes. The township has received 32 complaints from neighbours about the proposal. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LONG SAULT – Facing strong opposition from a Long Sault neighbourhood and a developer looking to maximize their build, South Stormont is bracing for a possible legal challenge over a housing development.

Prime Home Builders has applied for a zoning change on two lots on the south side of French Avenue to be able to build two semi-detached homes, one on each lot for a total of four dwellings. It would see a change in lot frontage to 18 meters (60 feet) instead of the standard 20 meters (66 feet).

Planning Director Peter Young told council last week there have been 32 registered complaints from the neighbourhood over the proposed homes, citing congestion, declining property values, aesthetics, having renters instead of owner-occupied homes, overcrowding and drainage. Some other are requesting the developer to stick to the original plan.

French Avenue already has semi-detached homes on the north side of the street from Cherry Avenue to Mille Roches Road but there are single family homes on the south side of the street.

Young says if the developer doesn’t get the semi-detached approval, there’s still a plan to maximize the space. “They (the developer) would likely build a single detached with an accessory apartment if the rezoning was not approved,” he said.

A local developer wants to build two semi-detached homes on two lots on the south side of French Avenue in Long Sault, Ont., similar to this one on the north side, seen on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. Local residents have complained to the township about the proposal citing congestion and aesthetics. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Most of council is against the rezoning.

“We received significant opposition from the people that would be most severely impacted by this zoning change. For that reason, I’m not going to support this zoning amendment,” Coun. Andrew Guindon said.

“I’ve driven that road (French Avenue) often and it’s getting quite difficult to navigate,” he said. Young countered that argument saying they don’t foresee any “noticeable impact” to traffic.

“The people who are complaining aren’t from other neighbourhoods or other municipalities, they are from the neighbourhood…this is where they live,” Deputy Mayor Dave Smith said in supporting Guindon’s objection.

Couns. Jennifer MacIsaac and Coun. Cindy Woods also don’t support the zoning change. “I wouldn’t want that in my neighbourhood either,” Woods said.

While the proposal meets all provincial regulations, depending on which way council decides, the neighbours or the developer could appeal the decision to Ontario’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. LPAT, formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), is an adjudicative panel that hears issues around land use matters.

“The developer could end up changing their mind and decide to go ahead (and appeal). I don’t think that’s what they’ve indicated,” Young said.

Council didn’t make a decision last Wednesday because it wants more information before rejecting the rezoning.

The matter is expected to come up at the Feb. 17 council meeting.