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Plan would bring 38-home subdivision to Maryhill

Plans for a subdivision on the west side of Maryhill, unveiled at a public meeting Tuesday night, have some of the neighbours worried about its impact on existing neighbourhoods and surrounding natural environment.

Sunset Hills Estates (855384 Ontario Ltd.) wants to build 38 single-family homes on a 29-acre (11.8 hectare) portion of a property that totals 82 acres, with 52 acres to remain as agricultural land outside the settlement boundaries. The portion to be developed is within the Maryhill urban area, and has long been zoned for residential development.

In fact, the land has a history of development proposals dating back to at least 1978, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said at this week’s planning meeting. The applicant is looking for zone changes that would see the designation of open space to protect an existing pond and maintain a link to a wetland area to the north.

The lands are on the west side of the village, and would see the extension westward of Zingervilla Place and a link to Homestead Drive, providing two entrances into the subdivision.

The plan of subdivision calls for a 1.5-acre park at the southeast portion of the land, a plot that currently fronts on Homestead Drive.

The lots, a minimum of a half-acre in size, would be serviced by municipal water from the existing system on the east side of Maryhill Road at St. Boniface Drive. The homes would be on private septic systems.

Simon Hasiu, who along with Sasa Filipovic, would develop the project and build the custom homes, said bungalows would start at 2,800 square feet, with two-story houses from 3,800 sq. ft.

Hugh Handy, a planner with the GSP Group, said the goal is to use the rolling topography of the area to the best advantage while protecting the natural features.

“We want to enhance what is there right now, and make sure we protect the natural environment,” he said.

In response to a question from Coun. Bonnie Bryant, Handy said the applicant would be working with the Grand River Conservation Authority to mitigate issues such as road salt’s impact on the environment and providing a corridor for wildlife such as turtles to travel between the two wetlands once a new road is introduced.

The development’s impact on the natural surroundings was front and center for residents who were out at Woolwich council chambers to provide feedback about the project.

Gary Embro, a resident for 38 years, while not opposed to the subdivision, expressed concerns about the effects on groundwater.

The installation of a municipal drain a few years ago led to a marked decrease in the level of the pond, he said, suggesting the subdivision could spell the end of the wetland.

“I predict that that pond won’t be there in five years,” said Embro, noting the current topography allows water to run downhill into the pond. “I’m worried what’s going to happen when that hill is worked on.”

Of the project itself, he predicted it could take 10 or 15 years to build out, a long time for residents to live with the mess, traffic and noise of construction.

For Gord Kaster, who runs a livestock farm to the west of the proposed development, the subdivision brings the prospect of people moving from urban areas looking for a rural lifestyle without realizing that rural life means noisy cows and the smell of manure being spread, for instance. He suggested a system, perhaps in the deeds, to notify homebuyers about the realities of living next to an agricultural area.

He, too, pointed to the potential impact on drinking wells should the project go in, suggesting a collective municipal treatment system would be better than individual septic tanks.

The meeting December 10 was for information purposes only, with council making no decision on the matter. Kennaley noted that all of the issues raised at the meeting would be taken into account when staff assesses the suitability of the project, drafting a recommendation report for councillors at a later date once all feedback has been received.

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