No park for Summerstown Estates

A diagram from a Monday, Dec. 20, 2021 council agenda shows a block of land in Summerstown Estates at the north end of James Crescent, east of Lalonde Boulevard, in South Glengarry, Ont. Township council has agreed to sell the 3.5 acre 'Block 23' back to the developer so more homes can be built. (South Glengarry via Newswatch Group)

LANCASTER/SUMMERSTOWN – Seeing a demand for homes and building lots, South Glengarry will forego a park in a Summerstown subdivision.

That will allow the Cornwall developer, Malyon Excavation, to build two or three more lots as part of the second and final phase of the Summerstown Estates subdivision on County Road 27.

The first phase was 11 lots and the second phase is 22 lots. The township says all of the lots have been sold and four building permits have already been approved for spring construction.

During its Dec. 20 meeting, township council approved a plan to allow Malyon to pay cash in lieu of parkland instead of leaving a 3.5 acre block in the subdivision for a park, which would have to be developed by the municipality.

Since the size of the lots in the subdivision are three-quarters to one acre, South Glengarry Planner Joanne Haley told council that many homeowners already have recreational amenities like swimming pools or play structures in their back yard.

The municipality and developer are close to officially opening the roads for the second phase of the subdivision.

Even though the council in 2016 approved the land block as parkland, a staff report says the “real estate market has changed drastically and there is now a demand for building lots in South Glengarry.”

Mayor Lyle Warden had thought cash in lieu of parkland was what council decided 2016. He also says the township shouldn’t be in the home developing business either. “Developers pay lots of fees to develop these subdivisions. I don’t think it should be our place to swoop in and develop these lots.”

Being an estate subdivision, Warden didn’t feel another park was needed, especially with the Summerstown Forest just up the road.

“I don’t think we’re in the development business. I don’t think that’s where we should be heading as a council,” Coun. Sam McDonell added.

McDonell believes having the lots developed by the developer would bring more tax dollars into the municipality than cash in lieu of parkland, plus it would give more opportunities for families to move to South Glengarry.

The cash in lieu of parkland would be 5 per cent of the value of the raw land in 1987 before a subdivision plan was drawn up.

Deputy Mayor Stephanie Jaworski was not aware the township owned the 3.5 acre piece of land. “I drive by that subdivision…I don’t have a good sense of what that community is looking for. I think we can make a lot of assumptions based on what their properties look like.”

The outlier who was ultimately defeated in a council vote, Jaworski wanted feedback from the community first. “I think we’d be making a decision too quickly.”

Coun. Martin Lang also agreed that the township shouldn’t be developing the lots, calling the potential move “underhanded” after Malyon Excavation has done all the subdivision work. Lang said he doesn’t believe the township can afford to put a park in every small subdivision.

The township plans to share its decision with residents soon.

A September 2021 Google Maps image shows homes under construction in the Summerstown Estates subdivision with the formerly designated 3.5 acres of parkland in the foreground. South Glengarry council decided Monday, Dec. 20, 2021 to take cash in lieu of the parkland in order to allow the developer to build more homes. (Google Maps via Newswatch Group)