On January 27th, a public hearing was held to look at amending two zoning bylaws in Windermere concerning a property at Windermere Road and Highway 93/95. Currently, it is zoned as P-2 Parkland and open space zone, R-1 Single Family Residential and R-3 Multiple Family Residential. This is a 17-acre property that was previously owned by a developer that created a development and master plan that worked within this zoning. After spending millions on paving roads, municipal water connections and infrastructure, etc., it failed and was foreclosed on. The economic downturn of 2008, a sluggish real estate market with plenty of existing inventory and no access to a municipal sewer connection likely were contributing factors to its downfall. Time passed and sometime in the fall of 2013, the property was purchased, as we understand it, by a new and different developer.
Mid-January of 2015, some owners of bordering properties were notified that a public hearing was approaching roughly 10 days later. With very little time to understand and organize for the hearing, we realized the hearing was being held to look at amending the zoning of this property, the applicant being the new developer. The applicant is asking the RDEK to rezone the property by removing entirely the P-2 zoning and the R-3, therefore changing to R-1 and R-5. R-5 zoning is the maximum permitted density there is and is described as Multiple Family Residential, Community Cluster zoning. Ultimately, this developer wants to put roughly 70 dwellings on the 17 acres and in the master plan has removed all open space. We and some other concerned neighbours find this density is grossly out of character with the neighbourhood which consists of properties a 1/2 acre or more in size. Concerns regarding access, fire protection (public safety), roadways, traffic and potential users/owners, were expressed during this hearing.
Of highest concern for my family, property owners of a bordering property, first and foremost is the zoning change, and the placement of an “above” ground wastewater treatment system to be housed in a building with additional underground facilities just beyond our backyard. No clear or specific information was available at the hearing on the details of this system and if we understood correctly, such systems have not yet been installed anywhere in Canada, but are functioning in Africa. We feel that this system may be wonderful and the best solution. We appreciate that it may be efficient, eco-friendly and somewhat attractive. However, we feel it should be located elsewhere on the property and would like further information once the developer can provide it.
We would like to see the development progress with a new plan that is in accordance with Windermere’s OCP, a new masterplan that leaves the P-2 zoning in place and provides for open green space and less density, a plan that will allow this development to provide lots that are more suited in size to the existing neighbourhood and density.
We ask the RDEK to defer the decision on rezoning to allow the developer to address the concerns expressed by community members, to leave P-2 zoning in place, to ask the applicant to provide more detailed information on the wastewater treatment system, to request that they relocate it within the development rather than on the boundary of the adjacent properties, and to generally look at how to enable this developer to be much more successful than the last. Directors will vote on this on Friday (February 6th) — please consider our concerns.