Elmira’s building boom will continue in the south end, Woolwich council this week approving plans for the latest expansion to the Birdland subdivision.
Southwood 4 will see a mix of single-family homes, semis, townhouses and apartments on some 70 acres. Altogether, Birdland Developments’s plan calls for 481 to 552 units that will be home to some 1,270 to 1,430 people.
The final plan recommended by township planners and OK’d by council Tuesday night addresses many of the concerns raised by neighbours during a pair of public meetings, said manager of planning John Scarfone.
Though no one from the public spoke to the issue – some neighbours were in the gallery – councillors did have a few questions and even reservations before ultimately approving the project.
Coun. Patrick Merlihan continued to raise traffic issues, noting few had been resolved in revisions to the plan. In particular, an already problematic situation at South Parkwood Boulevard and Arthur Street could get worse.
That intersection, where making a left turn at peak times can be a chore, has been a bone of contention for residents and councillors. While there have been suggestions a traffic light would help, the Region of Waterloo, which is responsible for Arthur Street, maintains signals aren’t warranted.
Studies submitted by the developer that looked at traffic in the area suggested that the project’s plan to open up new connections to Listowel Road and Whippoorwill Drive would eventually provide additional outlets for traffic.
But that raised another concern from Coun. Mark Bauman, who suggested traffic signals would be needed at the intersection of Listowel Road and a proposed new thoroughfare from the subdivision. In the absence of that, drivers would likely opt for Whippoorwill Drive in order to take advantage of the traffic lights there.
Not only would the additional signals be helpful, chances are the township would regret not doing so.
“I might have to say I told you so,” he said, joking about returning at a later date, his final term on council ending this month.
Scarfone, however, countered that region won’t allow a light given that studies show traffic volumes aren’t enough to warrant signals – as with Arthur Street, Listowel Road is a regional road.
While traffic remains an issue, the project as approved maintains changes introduced in the summer to address neighbours concerns about a planned apartment block. Rather than right at the corner of Whippoorwill adjacent to existing single-family homes, the apartments will be located more centrally and away from current residents.
“In response to issues raised by the public, Birdland modified the draft plan in an attempt to disperse the multiple housing blocks which were identified in the original plan as being too concentrated adjacent to Whippoorwill Drive. The street patterns and block layout were altered accordingly to reflect this change,” said Scarfone in his written report.
Given the higher density housing and the need for new roads, particularly connections to Listowel Road, Woolwich is allowing Birdland some flexibility in its staging of development. Still, building out Southwood 4 is expected to take about 10 years. That’s within the township’s growth targets for Elmira, said Scarfone.
“Elmira can work towards achieving its population target over the next 11 years by averaging an annual population of approximately 453 people.”
Fronting on 1143 Listowel Rd. in Elmira’s south end, the development would essentially form a link between Whippoorwill Drive and Listowel Road when built out.