217 Park Avenue is the latest lot to be threatened with severance - squeezing two homes on to the land currently occupied by one bungalow. 

It is a pleasant area of Town full of mature trees with attractive older houses sitting on generous lots.

People who live there understandably resist developments which are designed to change the face of their tranquil neighbourhood.

Change by Stealth

Yet change is happening by stealth. The Town's infinitely elastic Zoning By-laws are regularly amended to allow monster homes to be shoehorned on to severed lots.

If the Town wants to intensify development in stable residential neighbourhoods it should say so, be up front about it, and warn people in advance of what they can expect.

But no. That's not the way the system works. We have these phoney zoning by-laws, offering spurious protection against inappropriate development, that can be changed at the drop of a hat.

Two parcels

The owner of 217 Park Avenue, Nafisek Yaraghi, wants to sever the lot into two parcels, each one the home to a new two storey single detached dwelling.

Problem number one is this. The lot is big but not big enough to carry two homes. My spies, who at all times carry measuring tapes with them, tell me the entire frontage is 25.9 metres wide (or 85 feet) and the by-law specifies a minimum frontage of 15 metres (49' 2") for each of the two severed lots.  That's 30 metres in total.

Problem number two is the lot coverage. In this leafy neighbourhood full of single detached homes the by-law specifies a maximum lot coverage of 25%. More space for trees and greenery. But the owner needs 30%. 

Set backs

Problem number three is the required set-backs. The zoning standards specify minimum set backs from the front and sides of the lot to stop people building right up to their property line.

The by-law stipulates a minimum side yard setback of 1.8 metres (or 5' 11') and the owner wants 1.25 metres (4' 1") on one side and 0.74 metres (2' 5") on the other.


The solution for the owner is to persuade the Town's Committee of Adjustment at its meeting next Wednesday to agree these changes as so-called "minor variances" and Bob's your uncle. He's home and dry. Or, more accurately, two homes and dry.

If this goes ahead, the streetscape will inevitably change.  The buzzing chainsaws will be back at work again with trees falling like nine pins.

I hope people turn up at next Wednesday's meeting and say no. The meeting is open to the public and people can have their say. Trees can't speak for themselves. It falls to us do it for them.

217 is currently empty but is offered on lease for $2,600 a month. It has five bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The Committee of Adjustment meets at 9.30am on Wednesday 26 July 2017 in the William Cane meeting room at the Municipal Offices, 395 Mulock Drive, Newmarket.

The Monster Home at 1011 Elgin Street

In another part of the forest things are stirring...

The Monster Home at 1011 Elgin Street is coming along nicely. The shingles are on the roof. The enormous windows are in. Soon the curtains will be up and the SUVs will be in the drive. 

It looms over the adjacent bungalows, dominating the street.

Monster occupies less than one third of the lot

According to the owner, the giant house occupies just 31.3% of the lot, well under the maximum 35% allowed. In March this year, the Town asked the owner for sight of the survey confirming the lot coverage (at my instigation) but, so far as I know, the Planning Department has heard nothing. The owner is maintaining radio silence while the monster home moves ever closer to completion.

Astonishingly, it is not up to the Council to ensure compliance with its own by-laws. If you think the house is too big for the lot, then it's up to you to take action.

The local Ward councillor, Jane Twinney, called for a debate on infill developments on 27 March 2017. But what difference will that make? Should we burst into a tumultuous round of applause? Or is she just going through the motions?

Planning staff were asked to prepare a report reviewing Zoning By-law 2013-40

"to address best practices related to infill development standards across the Town as a whole." 

It is scheduled to come back to the Committee of the Whole sometime later this year -  December at the latest. But why does everything take so long?  

Master of the Universe

If I were Master of the Universe I would inject some sense of urgency into the exercise. We could be waiting another six months for this promised report when - as I have repeatedly pointed out - much of the spadework has already been done. 

The chainsaw massacre at 181 Beechwood Crescent

The owner of 181 Beechwood Crescent, Norm "Chainsaw" Stapley, has been granted permission to subdivide his lot into two parcels, each to have a single detached two storey house. A further five trees will have to be chopped down to accommodate the new houses.

Norm told the Committee of Adjustment in May that each dwelling would have a footprint of 2000-2500 sq ft.  But with two floors that could mean 5000 sq ft.

That's around double the size of the existing houses on Beechwood. 

Norm's spokeswoman, Brandi Clement of the Jones Consulting Group, clarifies. She tells the Committee the 5000 sq ft indicated on the site plan

 "is more of a construction envelope, not the footprint of the proposed dwellings". 

But she concedes the new houses will be two storeys at 2000-2500 sq ft per floor.

She says there are newer builds in the area that are similar in size.

So... These giant homes set a precedent.

Which takes us back to where we started from.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Add comment

Security code