Shrink Slessor Square!

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Putting Slessor Square on hold

On Monday (4 February) councillors will hear Newmarket’s Planning Department Staff recommend they accept the developer’s “Settlement Offer” in principle with crucially important matters put into a “Holding Zone” to be sorted out later on.

The Slessors want the Town to set aside its own zoning by laws which currently prohibit a development on this scale.

Councillors can do this but they must first be satisfied that appropriate studies have been submitted demonstrating the proposed development will not create an unacceptable level of traffic; will be compatible with the existing surrounding neighbourhood and be in conformity with the intent of the applicable provisions of the Official Plan.

This sounds like Mission Impossible to me.

These studies are incomplete. 

We are told the loose ends will be tied up later by relying on “Holding Positions”.

The staff say:

“In order to ensure that unacceptable traffic impacts do not occur, staff recommend that development proceed only when there is appropriate transportation planned and implemented with each phase of development.”

We are told these Holding Positions are commonplace.

Really?

I am left wondering how many other developments in Newmarket have been given the go-ahead in principle with hugely important issues left, waiting in the wings, to be resolved later.

Councillors are, of course, not obliged to accept the staff recommendation to approve the Settlement Offer. But, if they went against their own Planners’ advice, there would be consequences.

The Slessors have made it clear that they reserve the right to proceed to the scheduled 11April 2013  OMB hearing on their original application filed in September 2011 if a settlement is not achieved.

Bizarrely, Councillors never considered that original application in all its terms. It included an hotel but by the time the paperwork came before councillors (November 2011) the hotel component had vanished.

The proposed Conference Centre survived as part of the re-imagined application right through until November 2012. But it, too, has now been removed.

On Monday evening Newmarket’s Planning Staff will recommend rejection of that Original Application in favour of the Settlement Offer.

They say, with commendable candour, the original application is not compatible with the adjoining settled residential neighbourhood and would create an unacceptable level of traffic.

Yet the Settlement Offer raises precisely the same concerns.

And they are still unresolved.

We do not know what the traffic impact will be. And we do not yet have York Region’s comprehensive transportation study, due for completion in a few months time, in Spring 2013.

Despite this, we are told:

staff conclude that the principle of the application does not pose any conflicts with the provisions of the Regional or Town Official Plans but there are urban design and density issues that will need to be addressed before the application can proceed.

But isn’t this putting the cart before the horse?

Errr… Yes.

We are placing way too much faith on these Holding procedures delivering results.

And how on earth can the Planners recommend approval in principle when even they can’t say with any certainty how Slessor Square will impact on the town?

I discover this gem in the mammoth 123 page report:

  1. “The Holding Zone will address the potential traffic and parking impacts… once there is a more comprehensive understanding of the proposed application” (my italics for emphasis)

Sounds like we are all in the dark.

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Slessor on Sunday 

There will be a meeting tomorrow (Sunday 3 February) to discuss the Slessor application.

It will start at 2pm in the meeting room at Newmarket Public Library, Park Avenue (just off Main Street). Everyone is invited.

Regional Councillor John Taylor and Ward 4 Councillor Tom Hempen will be there to take questions.

The Committee of the Whole will meet at 7pm on Monday 4 February in the Council Chamber at 395 Mulock Drive to vote on the Slessor application.

 

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