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Neighbours want no part of Elmira apartment complex

Heritage Impact Assessment: 44 Church Street West, Elmira, Ontario

On the heels of opposition to an Ernst Street condominium proposal, another group of Elmira residents were equally unwelcoming to plans for a four-storey, 21-unit apartment building on Church Street West.

Wayne Martin and Rick Brubacher are seeking township approval for a rental building on what is now two properties located at 44 and 46 Church St. W. The former contains an older house that’s been converted to a triplex, while the latter is now a vacant lot after the single-family home there was demolished.

The plan presented to Woolwich council Tuesday night calls for one- and two-bedroom units to be offered for rent, said Megan Gereghty, a GSP Group planner representing the property owners.

To proceed, the developer will need official plan and zoning amendments from the township. Beyond that, the proposal asks for a number of site-specific changes, from much lower setbacks from the roadway to fewer parking spots than would normally be required. The density on the 0.42-acre (0.17-hectare) site would have to increase to twice the currently permitted level – to 124 units per hectare from 60.

“We think they’re appropriate for this site,” said Gereghty of the special provisions.

Neighbours were not of the same mind, raising concerns about traffic, parking, loss of privacy and incompatibilities with the existing surroundings.

The size of the building would not be in keeping with the neighbourhood, said Walter Ireson, who lives immediately next door at 42 Church St. W.

The proposed building would dwarf his home, keeping the yard in shade and eliminating privacy with a string of balconies looking out over his property, he added.

“When I get up in the morning … without raising my voice, I’ll be able to say ‘good morning’ to my neighbours,” he said.

He and other neighbours raised concerns about the grading on the property, which would require retaining walls and fences that would extend up to 15 feet high, cutting of the views of neighbouring properties that back on to the site.

Traffic is already an issue, Ireson added. The build-out of the large Lunor Subdivision to the west will make it worse.

Richard Trapp, who owns the property at 10 Snyder Ave. S., echoed concerns about traffic and parking.

“It’s already very, very difficult down there,” he said, noting the project isn’t a good fit, much like the Ernst Street building discussed earlier in the evening.

“These are projects that are trying to fit into the neighbourhood and that really aren’t appropriate,” he said.

“They’re too big. They just don’t fit.”

Picking up on the traffic concerns, Coun. Patrick Merlihan questioned the lack of a traffic study looking at the impact of the new apartment building.

Traffic volumes even now a problem on Church Street heading into the downtown core, he said, noting parking is at a premium already, though the applicant is suggesting visitors and residents would find on-street parking.

The June 25 session was for information purposes, with no decisions made. Councillors will await full public comment and a recommendation report from planning staff before voting on the merits of the proposal.

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