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Council approves apartment plan for Riverside Drive property

A list of neighbourhood concerns dismissed by Woolwich staff, a plan to convert an Elmira home into an apartment complex got the go ahead this week from township council.

Tuesday night’s decision clears the way for a zone change at 3 Riverside Dr. W., where the owner wants to renovate the existing house and build an addition to create a multi-unit building.

Councillors last month deferred a vote on the project, seeking more information about the negative impacts on neighbours, particularly a property at 4-1/2 William St., which is accessible only through an easement on the Riverside Drive land.

A planning staff report tabled Tuesday found no appreciable negatives, at least not enough to halt the project.

Bev McKeown, whose William Street home takes the biggest hit of all the surrounding properties, seemed resigned to Woolwich pushing ahead with the project even before the meeting began. Where he had previously spoken against the plan, this time he asked for measures to help mitigate the downside, specifically “no parking” signs along the shared driveway that serves as the sole access route to his landlocked home.

Backing that request, Coun. Mark Bauman suggested the signs should indicate the driveway is a fire route, both underscoring the seriousness of blocking the drive and boosting the fine for offenders.

Bob Black, a planner representing 3 Riverside Dr. owners Murray and Patricia Horst, said his clients would be open to signing the driveway, along with other measures to reduce the impact on the McKeowns.

Black said the project provides “positives for the community,” including improvements to a site that is somewhat run down, enhancements to the building and upgrade to the current driveway.

Councillors went along with staff’s recommendation, with Coun. Patrick Merlihan the sole exception. Raising concerns about the impact on the McKeowns, including the prospect of problems with garbage and waste collection on the congested site, he voted against the plan.

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