We’re writing again to ask for your feedback about the development of the ODC land as town homes and apartment blocks. Please read this post and reply with your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. (I can’t stress it enough: your feedback has been invaluable in guiding this process.)
If you need to get caught up on the background to the ODC development, you can find previous posts here. They are organized in reverse chronological order.
City staff have let us know that their plan is to deliver their recommendation to Waterloo City Council in March or April regarding the zoning change request at the ODC development on the corner of Moore and Roger streets.
At that point, council can decide to support all or part of what is outlined, or they can decline the plan entirely.
We’d like to update you on what has come of our meetings with the City of Waterloo and ODC.
As you probably recall, these meetings have been held in response to ODC’s request to amend the zoning on this parcel of land from low density to medium density.
That means we have been given a chance to shape what is built on this land, but only if the project receives approval as a medium density development. The offer to shape what will happen to our neighbourhood in future does not include the possibility of similar input if the designation of this parcel of land changes from industrial to low density. In other words, if the lands are zoned low density, we as neighbours will not have any control over what is built there.
After three meetings we are left with serious concerns about what might get built on the ODC site.
A key detail to bear in mind is that the developer who is seeking the zoning change, GSP Group, is probably not going to be the same developer who undertakes building the project. ODC’s intent is to win a zoning change before selling the land and they’ve contracted GSP to win that approval. This is because the land is certain to sell at a higher price if zoned at a higher density.
Here’s what has been offered if this land is zoned medium density:
• If zoned for medium density, the development would be limited to 250 units and 500 bedrooms. That could be 250 units, each with 2 bedrooms, but it is more likely to be a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units. If half the bedrooms are shared by couples that would mean 750 people living where now there are about 25.
• The buildings that front Roger and Moore Streets would be limited to 11 metres in height—3 story stacked row houses (that means duplexed upper and lower)—with less generous set-backs (space between the house and the sidewalk/road) than the houses now on Roger St. Four apartment buildings with a maximum height of six stories will be located behind these; their actual placement and heights will be determined by the future builder.
• The corner at Roger and Moore streets would become a public parkette of approximately 550 square metres, with the façade of the ODC building retained as a feature. ODC is talking with the City about ceding this land to the City after a parkette is developed. We understand city parks staff are currently investigating this offer.
• It is proposed that Roger Street be widened by approximately 4 metres for a length of approximately 120 metres from the intersection with Moore Avenue to accommodate on-street parking.
• Moore Avenue is to be widened by approximately 1.5 metres and will accommodate on-street parking. This road widening is not required by the City, but rather has been proposed by the applicant to accommodate 22-24 on-street parking spots along a portion of Roger street. Parking within the development has been reduced from 1.05 to 1 space per unit.
• The developer has decided not to pursue a mixed-use designation for the development. This means that commercial and business uses originally included in their proposal are no longer considered.
Here’s what we won’t get if this land is zoned medium density:
• No assurance that mature trees would be saved. The City’s forester has identified several trees and/or areas that are in good condition. Identifying these trees does not mean they will be protected, nor should trees be removed prior to a qualified professional reviewing the site and preparing a tree saving plan, which is typically done at the site plan stage. A tree saving plan will contain various recommendations, including tree protection in some cases and replacement in others. There are no protected species on the site.
• No assurance of what the buildings will look like (though the City has design guidelines that would apply to any builder), their exact locations on the property, or how much of the surface area will be paved.
• We have outstanding questions about whether the sanitary and waste-water systems can handle as many as 1000 more people, and how storm water and snow would be handled. (Those able to understand engineering-ese may refer to the functional servicing report posted on the city’s website for further details.)
When asked why the developer isn’t seeking a designation of low-density with bonusing, the reply was that the developer believes the city “doesn’t have much to offer.”
Our neighbourhood now has two options:
1. We can accept the zoning change to medium density as proposed, and maybe push for a few more small changes, or
2. We can reject the proposal and insist that the ODC land remain zoned for low density.
If we reject the proposal we won’t get any say in what a future developer does with the land provided they stay within the regulations for low density zoning. Under this scenario, the maximum density would be 100 units and 300 bedrooms. If zoned for medium density, the development would be limited to 250 units and 500 bedrooms.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK.
It matters. Tell us whether if think this land should be designated for low or medium density housing.