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Apartments proposed for former seniors' home

The new owner of a long-time residential care home in Elmira wants to convert the facility into a six-unit apartment building. The necessary changes in zoning were the subject of a public planning meeting Aug. 28, where Woolwich councillors heard no objections.

The building, most recently home to the Pilgrim’s Provident care facility, is located at 3 Erb St., at the corner of Duke Street. The application from Debra Wetherly seeks to have the property rezoned for residential use from its current designation as “institutional.”

Along with the zoning, the proposal would also see the official recognition of existing setbacks on the property, where the building and parking areas come very close to the property line, explained director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley.

The parking situation – space must be made for nine spots given the township’s requirement of 1.5 spots per unit – is complicated by the potential future widening of Duke Street, which is only 12 metres wide instead of the standard 18 metres, he noted.

While no one attended the meeting to raise concerns, the township has received input from the Region of Waterloo requesting the applicant submit a land-use compatibility study given the property’s proximity to the Union Street industrial area and rail line. Township staff will be reviewing that request, however, as the site has long been used for similar purposes, said Kennaley.

Coun. Allan Poffenroth said the building has long been used for residential purposes, so the impact from the industrial area would be the same as it has been for years. The area is also home to many other multi-unit residential buildings.

“It seems like a request that’s just going to cost the owner a whole pile of money,” he said.

Picking up that thread, Al Lubberts, representing the owner, said the new use would likely see less potential impact on the building’s residents than was the case when it was a seniors’ home, where people were there all day.

As well, he added, a recent study by nearby Chemtura Co. shows noise levels pose no concerns for the area around 3 Erb St.

The owner, who acquired the property Mar. 15, plans no changes to the footprint of the two-and-a-half-storey building, said Lubberts. In converting the structure to one-, two- and three-bedroom units, most of the changes will be internal, though there will be balconies added to the units on the second floor.

Wetherly is also looking at installing a fence and/or hedge along the property line at the south side, acting as a buffer between the parking area and the neighbouring home.

Elmira resident Ruth Josephs, who used to work in the previously-empty building, said the proposed use would be welcomed in the neighbourhood.

“It will be very good to have that building used,” said Josephs, who was the only member of the public in attendance aside from those involved with the application.

No decisions were made in regards to the application. Councillors will discuss the plan after staff has heard from the public and compiled a recommendation report at a later date.


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