Initially slated for rejection, the city’s planning committee has put their support behind the development of three single-family dwellings on four lots along South Bay Road.
These proposed builds are notable because city administration had recommended that the committee deny these applications on the grounds they violate the Official Plan.
The unserviced properties are located in an environmentally vulnerable area defined as “Ramsey Lake Intake Protection Zone 3” where private services are not allowed.
“These are longstanding policies that have been in place since the Ramsey Lake Community Improvement plan was implemented in the early 1990s,” senior planner Mauro Manzon explained to city council on Sept. 28.
The builds’ proximity to a creek and wetlands in the vicinity were also cited as points of concern.
The planning committee voted 2-2 on the application during their Sept. 13 meeting, which automatically bumped it to the Sept. 28 city council meeting before they were able to engage in additional debate and consider an alternative motion.
City council as a whole sent the application back to the planning committee meeting for further debate at the request of planning committee chair and Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan, who explained that the planning committee had already been briefed on the complex matter.
Although they were previously divided, the committee united behind an alternate motion on Wednesday, to which they offered their unanimous support.
This motion included a handful of site-specific provisions, such as that the owner “provides comments from Public Health Sudbury and Districts stating that the subject lots are capable of supporting a subsurface sewage disposal system.”
Other measures, such as that the owner provides a lot grading plan and construct drainage outlets, were also included.
“At the end of the day, we all want development,” Kirwan told Sudbury.com after the meeting. “We don’t want to get in the way, but we also want to protect the environment and the Official Plan.”
With Conservation Sudbury indicating no objection to the proposal, the applicant requiring a permit under the Conservation Authorities Act and the city imposing additional requirements of the developer, he added that environmental concerns have been addressed.
“There doesn’t seem to be any environmental concern because those systems are pretty expensive and good … and protect what they’re supposed to protect,” he said, adding that these houses are rather substantial builds for the community.
In addition to environmental considerations, the application sparked debate about whether landowners should be handcuffed by the plans of other developers — in this case, those behind the University Park development, which is slated to bring municipal services to the area.
“I think the main concern was that we’d be holding back development on these properties until servicing was available, but we don’t know when servicing will be available and we don’t even know if they’ll be able to connect to the servicing when it’s available,” Kirwan said.
As for whether approving these builds will set a precedent for others in the area, Kirwan said that every application is treated on its own merits.
“If there’s any way we can work to make things happen, then I think we’re looking for those ways.”
The application will be forwarded to a future city council meeting for final approval alongside the planning committee’s recommendation that it be approved.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.