Robinson Village residents upset by 8-storey zoning exemption for proposed condo
Some residents in Sandy Hill are angry about plans to build an eight-storey condominium complex in their neighbourhood despite existing zoning that caps building height at six storeys in their area.
The proposed condo building would go up in the Robinson Village area, which is bordered by the Rideau River, the Queensway and the Lees Avenue transitway station.
Homeowners say the eight-storey development will cause traffic congestion and infringe on the privacy of their backyards, as well as fail to fit in with its neighbouring homes.
Residents met with city representatives Wednesday to voice their concerns.
Wendy Duschenes is one of them. She said the building would go up on the lot right next door to hers on Robinson Avenue and extend across three other adjacent lots.
It comes after she and her neighbours spent more than a year ironing out a deal with the city in 2014 to raise the height limit from 4.5 to six storeys, she said.
“We did think that was the end of it because it was a long process and we had been assured by our councillor, Mathieu Fleury, that that would be the end of it, that we would be capped at six storeys and the city would have sufficient means to counteract any appeal by a developer to the Ontario Municipal Board. That was in January 2015,” Duschenes said.
August letter notified residents of change
But on Aug. 14, she and other residents received a letter from the city informing them that the limit was now eight storeys for the proposed development only.
The developer had appealed the six-storey zoning cap to the Ontario Municipal Board, arguing that the city should not have changed the “long-standing intent of the Official Plan to permit 10 to 30-storey development,” the OMB said in its final proceeding note.
The city and the developer later “resolved their differences” on their own, the OMB said.
The city’s official plan was amended to allow the eight-storey development on the developer’s property only, “subject to a step-back above the sixth floor as well as a holding provision.”
The OMB said it’s satisfied the amendment represents “good land use planning.”
‘We’re not pleased’
“Mostly we are really concerned about the lack of due process here. We were not informed that there was a hearing in January of 2015, we were not even informed that the OMB had made a decision in March, and it was only after rumours started surfacing on the street that we began to ask our councillor what was going on,” she said.
“We’re perplexed, frankly. … We’re not pleased.”
City Coun. Mathieu Fleury said the city wants denser development around transit stations but realized a six-storey limit was appropriate in Robinson Village.
He said that when the developer appealed the decision to the OMB, a compromise was reached.
“I think they wanted 15 storeys [but] we settled on eight storeys, which is above the six-storey cap but it’s specific to that property and doesn’t change the ceiling maximum of the rest of Robinson Village,” he said.
He also said six storeys will remain the permanent limit in the village because the period to appeal the transit development plan has ended.
Duschenes said she’s unconvinced, arguing that she has heard that guarantee before.
“If one developer has been successful before the OMB, would [another developer] not use that as ammunition to have the same treatment?”