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Residents object to apartment plan for Elmira neighbourhood

Surrounding residents want no part of a plan to convert an old home into a six-unit apartment building, fearing the project would ruin their Elmira neighbourhood.

The property at 3 Riverside Dr. W. abuts some non-standard lots that create a patchwork of homes in an older area of town.

Owners Murray and Patricia Horst are seeking to have the site rezoned to allow for the creation of a six-unit apartment building by renovating the existing house and constructing an addition to the rear of the dwelling. The rest of the lot would essentially be filled with seven parking spaces and a two-lane driveway.

At a public planning meeting Tuesday night, Woolwich councillors got an earful from residents.

“Why would you want to destroy our little neighbourhood by allowing this to happen?” asked Steve Lynn, a Maple Street resident whose property backs onto the lot in question.

While “not averse to change,” he argued the project was not a good fit for the area, saying changes “should be respectful” of the surroundings.

The project would change the nature of the neighbourhood, eliminating green space and crowding the properties around it, said Lynn. “I have numerous objections.”

His concerns about the changes the development would bring, from problems with snow clearing to noise and garbage disposal, were shared by other neighbours.

Bev McKeown, whose William Street property shares access through a right-of-way, said the grade of the site already creates problems for vehicle access during the winter, a situation likely to be worsened with more cars accessing the driveway.

He, too, sees adverse effects on the neighbourhood.

For resident Steve Stumpf, the project is likely to worsen the traffic situation on Riverside Drive.

The road  already has parking issues and is routinely used by horse-drawn buggies, farm equipment and other vehicles bypassing the downtown route, he told councillors.

Bob Black, a planner representing the applicants, said compatibility with surrounding uses is a key consideration. He pointed to other multi-unit dwellings in the vicinity as examples, saying the proposed use was appropriate.

The Horsts’ bid would see the zoning on the property changed from ‘residential – mixed high density (R-5)’ to ‘residential multiple (R-7) with site specific regulations.’ This week’s meeting was an information session only, with council making no decisions until planning staff has received public input and drafted a recommendation report.

In response to a question from Coun. Scott Hahn, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said a report would likely come back in a couple of months.

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