In a razor-tight 3-2 decision, the city’s planning committee has approved a 19-unit townhouse development Dalron Ltd. wants to build on Mallard Landing’s Drive.
About 20 residents showed up at the Dec. 10 planning meeting to protest the development. While most expressed worries about traffic and other issues, the most common complaint was the fact that, when they bought their houses, they were told future development in the area would be single family housing, not townhouses.
Simon Nickson, whose Mist Hollow Drive home is near the proposed development, said the “row housing” Dalron wants to build will drive down property values in the area.
“Current homeowners on Mallard’s Landing should not have to put up with such a drastic transition,” he said. “I question why the staff report even recommends that the modified 19 row townhouse development be approved.”
Nickson echoed speaker after speaker, who said they had been misled when they bought their properties into believing the neighbourhood would stay single family units only. Some complained of the “complete disrespect” they were being shown, while another said traffic was already “unbelievable” in the area.
In response, Kristi Arnold of Dalron said the plan for the area was for single family units, but that the market and Sudbury’s demographics had changed. The demand in the city now was for condo-style units for retiring couples and young professionals with no kids. The townhouses will sell for between $350,000 and $450,000, she said.
“By no means will it be low-income,” Arnold said.
And city staff said while people are given plans for future development when they buy a house in a new subdivision, that doesn’t commit the developer to never change those plans. It’s not realistic to expect builders not to adapt to changing market conditions.
Ward 9 Coun. Doug Craig, whose ward includes Mallard’s Landing, voted against the development, and he urged Dalron to wait a few more years until development in the area would allow the project to exit onto Remington Drive, instead of Mallard’s Landing.
He said he was voting against it because no one in the area supports it, and traffic concerns are authentic, despite the staff report that says otherwise.
But Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli voted in favour.
He said he bought his house under similar circumstances, but since then, townhouses and public housing has been built in his area. Having a mix of development is good for the city, he said.
Ward 6 Coun. Andre Rivest voted against the development, arguing that since homeowners were told only single family units would be built, Dalron should keep its promise.
“A deal’s a deal,” Rivest said.
Ward 4 Coun. Evelyn Dutrisac said she was torn on the matter – Dalron should do what it said it would, but she understands the need for a better mix of housing in Greater Sudbury as the population changes. So she voted in favour of allowing Dalron to proceed, leaving Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour, who chairs the committee, to cast the deciding vote.
When he voted in favour, the crowd angrily left council chambers at Tom Davies square, after more than two hours of debate.
To move ahead with the project, Dalron had to apply to change the zoning in the area from low to medium density, since townhouses can only be built in Greater Sudbury on lands zoned medium density. The houses would be built at the corner of Mallard’s Landing and Mist Hollow Drive.
In their analysis of Dalron’s application to change the zoning, city staff said the plan conforms with provincial and local planning policies. Those policies encourage residential development in areas that are already built up and serviced by municipal water and sewer services.
“Staff notes that the subject development proposal will make use of existing infrastructure and services that are available at the intersection of Mallard’s Landing Drive and Mist Hollow Drive,” the report reads.
“No new infrastructure is required to be constructed in order to service the development that is being proposed. The development proposal is therefore consistent with PPS policy with respect to avoiding unjustified or uneconomical expansion of infrastructure.”
The area already has a Sudbury Transit bus stop within walking distance, the report reads, and, despite concerns of residents, it won’t have a big impact on traffic.
“The introduction of row townhouse dwelling units onto the subject lands is not expected to significantly impact traffic on local streets such as Mallard’s Landing Drive or Mist Hollow Drive,” the report concludes.