Committee of Adjustment Wrap-up for December 4, 2014

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The Committee of Adjustment met today, hearing 11 applications in total. (Full Agenda)

Four of them are of note:

– 311 & 321 Frances Avenue in Stoney Creek which is a mid-rise residential building proposal
– 4 Derek Drive which is home to the Jackson family of Jackson Orchards fame. Jackson Orchards was the last farm within the boundaries of the Old City of Hamilton.
– 856 Beach Blvd which sought to build a basement on the Beach Strip
– 11 Brock Street, which is footsteps from Pier 8, a proposed reuse of commercial lands to residential and is tied up in City Hall red tape.

311 & 321 Frances Avenue, Stoney Creek

The developer, New Horizon, of 311 & 321 Frances Avenue, close to Lake Ontario near Green Road, required a variance in height for the top of the proposed buildings elevator shaft.

The development, which includes a 129-unit condo tower, was approved by Council in 2010.

The building variances for 15 metres (five-storeys) was approved by Committee of Adjustment this summer.

Committee of Adjustment approved the variance for the elevator shaft to extend above the 15-metres.

There was one objector at the meeting, a resident of the nearby 301 Frances Avenue condo building. The objection was related to lost line-of-sight to Lake Ontario.

4 Derek Drive

The Jackson family sought a severance to their 10 acre property on the south side of King Street East, just east of Nash Road. They are splitting the property into a 7-acre and 3-acre property, to retain their family home on the 3-acre site and sell the other portion which borders King Street East.

The Jackson Orchard, on the northeast corner of Nash and King, was the last farmed property within the boundaries of the Old City of Hamilton. The orchard grounds are now a nursing home building a series of dense town homes.

They operated a farm market on the property they are severing.

The Jackson home will retain its “AA” (Agricultural) zoning which allows for the residence, and they will sell the 7-acre portion which will require rezoning before any changes can occur on the site.

The real estate agent representing the Jackson family estimates the 7-acre property can fit 120 residential units when it is developed.

The property includes a seasonal stream, woodlots, and under the stream a major municipal sewage pipe.

The agent says the environmentally sensitive stream and woodlots will either be transferred to the City or Conservation Authority by the developer, or become part of the “common elements” of the new development to ensure their protection.

As the land will need rezoning before development, there will be a full public process including a Planning Committee hearing, in the future.

CoA approved the severance

856 Beach Blvd

The debate about basements and potential flooding on the Beach Strip returned to Committee of Adjustment as the owner of 856 Beach Blvd – a development group – sought permission to build a basement above the 76 metre above mean sea level line. (Basically, above the water table as defined in an old bylaw)

Hamilton’s Bylaws states no home on the Beach Strip may have a basement due to the high risk of flooding in the event of a storm surge from Lake Ontario.

Many times in Hamilton’s past, the Lake has flooded the Beach Strip.

Committee of Adjustment is not entirely consistent in its upholding of the bylaw, having approved a handful of basement in the past four years.

The Committee is divided over the bylaw prohibition – with some approvals of basements when the CoA felt flooding was a lower risk or the elevation higher.

Ultimately, CoA denied this request on a 4-2 vote.

CoA members expressed – without a formal vote – a desire for Council to review the bylaw prohibition on basements in the Beach Strip neighbourhood.

The Beach Strip has become a popular development site, and has seen a significant amount of dense infill development in the past decade.

Once a neighbourhood of blue collar and middle class with lower property values, the Beach Strip is one of the most valued neighbourhoods in Hamilton now.

The question: will Council review the Beach Strip zoning bylaw rules, or continue to leave CoA to make ad-hoc decisions?

11 Brock Street

A North End development, a stone’s throw from Pier 8, came before Committee of Adjustment for a laundry list of minor variances to allow for an adaptive reuse.

The owner of 11 Brock Street, Bill Curran, wants to repurpose the site from its current commercial storage use to a three unit/home residential property.

Under the Official Plan, the property is approved for residential zoning as the desired zoning, but was a legal non-confirming commercial use.

Built in 1920 as a tool and die shop, the building was most recently storage for Complete Rent-alls. Curran, of Thier + Curran Architects fame, purchased the property from Complete Rent-alls.

The property is located on a street with road-widening right of ways. Curran wishes to have front porches, and some fencing at the front as an aesthetic feature.

This was the main stumbling block with the development getting caught up in bureaucracy.

Councillor Jason Farr came to Committee of Adjustment in support of the proposal and variances. Farr stated the proposal enjoys neighbourhood support.

The variances were fully approved.

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