Open letter to City Council,
Staff update to official plan language regarding neighbourhood protection is not acceptable.
Staff recently updated the language in the official plan regarding neighbourhood protection. The language as presented is not acceptable. And a proposed motion by Marianne Meed Ward does not go far enough.
The language as proposed by staff would essentially green light semi-detached housing in all areas of Burlington. Townhouses and apartments could also be approved if they are “compatible with the surrounding area”, respectful of the “physical character” and provide an “amenity area.” This is the same subjective language that is problems all over the city. People have to know what to expect and we have seen the planning definition of all these terms can be very far from what residents expect. This subjective language and the ability to convert houses into semi-detached needs removed from the “Residential – Low Density” definition.
Secondarily the definition of “Residential - Medium density" allows all sorts of unexpected and unwanted development. The language allowing for 4 story buildings with a rooftop deck in “Residential - Medium density" areas is also unacceptable. The difference between “Residential - Medium density" and “Residential – Low density" is largely invisible to residents. I doubt anyone knows what zone they are in and you have to check the map embedded in the 600-page official plan to have any idea.
We do not need to get into a discussion of the wisdom of these changes; We need to deliver the advertised protection to residents. The city is running ads in Tim Horton's explaining how your neighbourhoods will be "protected." What many people take that to mean is "protected from significant change." Letting loose with semi-detached and 4 story buildings next door is a significant change.
If the cities Tim Horton's ad said, we will be limiting development in some areas "flash to map" to semi-detached and other areas to small apartment buildings - then my complaint would be blunted.
We are setting up years if not decades of people that will have all sorts of legitimate anger directed to the city. We can leave the fate of the neighbourhoods to future OP battles. More than enough change is generated at the moment for people to absorb.
Direct staff to:
1) Remove the reference to semi-detached from 8.3.3(1).1
2) Remove 8.3.3(1).b entirely
3) Remove “non-ground-oriented dwellings”, “back-to-back townhouses” and “low-rise” from 8.3.4(1).a
4) Remove “non-ground-oriented dwellings” “back-to-back townhouses” and “low-rise” from 8.3.4(1).b
5) Modify 8.3.4(1).c to read “the maximum building height should be comparable to the average height of the highest points of the rooflines of existing residential buildings on the immediately adjoining properties sharing lot lines with the lands under application.“