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Sunday, October 13, 2019
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St. Jacobs seniors’ home seeking zone change to permit 28-unit expansion

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Steve Kannon
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A community newspaper journalist for more than two decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.

Having consolidated land acquisitions around its existing building, a St. Jacobs-based seniors’ housing organization is now seeking approval for a 28-unit expansion.

Sprucelawn Apartments for Seniors Inc. has applied for an amendment to Woolwich’s official plan as well as a zone change needed to advance the project, which was unveiled at a public meeting Tuesday night in township council chambers.

The move would essentially double the size of the complex at 33 Front St., which is currently home to 30 units.

The company recently acquired a 340-square-metre former road allowance deemed surplus by the township, paying out some $130,000 to clean up contaminants from the soil. It also owns the neighbouring property at 2 Isabella St., and plans to demolish the former group home on the site.

The application looks to rezone the property from residential medium density (R-3) to residential multiple with design guidelines (R-7A). The site-specific provisions for the 1.5-acre property include reducing the required lot frontage from 36.5 metres to approximately 33.5 metres; reducing the required northerly side yard setback from 7.5 metres to approximately 4 metres; and retaining the existing reduced parking of 11 spaces.

Pointing to the reduced setback from the adjacent millrace, Coun. Mark Bauman noted an outlet on the water course needs to be repaired or replaced, wondering who’ll pay for that given the extra stormwater drainage from the site.

Dan Kennaley, the township’s director of engineering and planning, said the millrace project is likely to involve a cost-sharing arrangement between the township and adjacent property owners, including planned redevelopment for the nearby former Jakobstettel Inn site at 16 Isabella St.

“We’ve identified it as an issue,” he said of the millrace outlet.

Sam Head, a planner representing Sprucelawn, said he’s consulted with the Grand River Conservation Authority, with the agency having no issues with the proposed setbacks.

Addressing questions from council about parking, Head said the revamped site would improve that situation.

“There should be sufficient parking for the existing units and the new addition.”

The planning meeting saw no objections raised, with one neighbour present to discuss site issues such as landscaping and lighting, a subject raised in a letter by another St. Jacobs property owner.

“We’re not opposed, as we feel it represents a need of the community, but we want our concerns on record,” neighbour Werner Heine, who lives at 6 Isabella St., told councillors.

Kennaley noted that such concerns, from lighting to landscaping, would be covered at the site-plan approval stage of the project, should it be approved.

This week’s meeting was for information purposes only, with planning staff expected to come back to council with a recommendation report after taking in public comments and reviewing the documents submitted by Sprucelawn’s consultants.

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