I took these pictures of a beautiful snapping turtle laying her eggs in the soon-to-be seeded garden bed of my neighbours whom, like Tracy and I, live on lands adjacent to the Dufferin Marsh.
This endangered creature needed to find a suitable place to complete her reproductive cycle, and she needed to venture beyond what to her is the imaginary confines of the Marsh: she needed to extend her search outside into a “buffer” area of the surrounding area, to the delight of my Neighbours’ school-age Children who will no doubt await the hatching in a few months.
This is a mere example of the value of these protected lands in the heart of our village, and why our Community Plan, despite its flaws, is so strong on protecting not only the Marsh itself, but by established buffer zones that further protect the Marsh and its many plant and animal inhabitants.
Recently the owners of our Brownsville Junction Plaza applied to the Township to begin the process of approval (or denial depending on your side of the issue) of their desire to erect a 5,000+ square foot professional office at the rear of the Foodland store, on a parcel at the corner of Cooper Drive and Doctor Kay. This parcel is clearly zoned in the Plan as an environmental constraint area, and for good reason.
In fact, the plaza owners via the Dufferin Marsh management plan are required to maintain these lands (which include storm water and other drainage assets required for maintain the Marsh).
Monday’s Council meeting saw this application come before Council for the first time. I could not attend the meeting but I submitted a written statement (see below).
I am delighted that so many Schomberg residents are concerned with this application, and for good reason. I am especially delighted to see our new neighbours and residents of our new Laurier subdivision taking an active interest in the preservation and support of our local ecology.
For a write-up of what transpired at this meeting, click here for the King Sentinel article in today’s paper:
On a tangent to this proposal, I reviewed the submitted concept drawings for the proposed building. Seems the architect took her or his queues from the Tim Horton’s: 3 stories and similar to the proposed concept for the Laurier plaza across the street: a horrible false gable over the entrance way, beige stucco and a bland manufactured stone accent that makes it compliment the Tim’s (and I am not exaggerating here).
A local village champion told me the design resembles, “…a 3-storey suburban funeral home”.
At least we can laugh: Did the architect not notice Sproule House? One of King’s few designated heritage properties? THAT is the model from which excellent, appropriate complementary design flows from for our heritage village.
Despite the fact I strongly hold that this site is not to be developed, I am just amazed at the architectural ignorance these developers try to sell our communities on. If you are a developer reading this, take a lesson from my deputation on the Laurier plaza application: File Number Z-2011-11: 3 Rose Cottage Lane (see attached PDF),
Here is a copy below of my written submission to Township Council and Staff. I welcome your comments in the section below this post. Better yet, I welcome you to express your concerns to your local Councillor on this issue and other like it.
RE: OP-2011-06 Written Representation Regarding Proposed OPA Amendment – Brownsville Junction Plaza Professional Building
Dear Mr. Kitchen [Director of Planning, King Township],
I’m writing to you as a resident of Schomberg, residing at 344 Main Street. I am not in support of this application for the reasons I will describe below.
[Unfortunately I cannot attend Monday's Council meeting on this subject; I'd appreciate your assistance in registering my representation here on this file.]
The Schomberg Community Plan (“the Plan”) is quite specific with regard to lands designated as these subject lands are, classified “Environmental Constraint”; Section 3.2 (Environmental Constraints Area) is quite detailed with regard to the general principles, permitted uses, and policies of these lands.
I can see no reason how such a proposed re-designation to “District Commercial” can be considered good planning.
The “Environmental Constraint” area defined in the Plan was not created by accident; it was done so specifically to protect the delicate flood plain areas defined in Schedule “A”. More specifically, this Policy has, since its inception, served to protect the Dufferin Marsh, a most valuable yet ecologically sensitive community and environmental asset.
I quote from Section 3.2.1: “Where lands are designated as an Environmental Constraint Area such lands are intended primarily for preservation and conservation of the natural land and/or environment. With more than sufficient land available within Schomberg to support the anticipated population growth well beyond the planning period, there is limited, if any, justification to continue to develop or encroach upon lands with inherent physical hazards, particularly in those areas peripheral to the community. Council shall, wherever possible, endeavour to retain those lands designated as Environmental Constraint Areas in a natural state, and, to link and integrate environmentally sensitive areas by means of natural vegetative corridors which provide for the migration of plants and animals as well as the exchange of genetic material across the landscape. The use of such lands shall … minimize the alteration of the environment and provide for the maintenance of the ecosystem and hydraulic capacity of the water courses and their related flood plain”.
- These lands in question are on the periphery of the constrained area, but nonetheless serve as a vital “buffer” between the developed lands that make up the Brownsville Junction Plaza and the Dufferin Marsh.
- In fact, I believe that the landowner is legally responsible to maintain these lands so as to ensure their integrity and functionality as part of the Environmentally Constraint Area; if this is the case the Township should require due enforcement of its obligations, rather than to allow a commercial designation which will effectively negate these obligations.
- Schomberg possesses significant commercial and industrial zoned lands that are, or soon will be, developed to serve the economic needs of the community. I can see no rationale for adding more capacity that would justify Council derogating from this very specific environmental constraints policy. Schomberg is in need of more professional health services facilities, but we need not sacrifice the protection of sensitive environmental lands to accommodate them.
- Allowing such designation will further threaten the Plan’s support of the Special Policy Area (Section 3.3), which serves to promote appropriate commercial development on Main Street. The subject lands occupy a portion of Doctor Kay Drive, a key “gateway” to the historic village. As I stated in my comments to Council representing Concerned Citizens of King Township regarding File Number Z-2011-11: 3 Rose Cottage Lane (see attached PDF), “Brownsville Junction plaza, though a functional addition to the village, was a product of its time”. Adding further capacity to this development model will, in my opinion, not support the goals of our Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP): All new development must be very carefully considered within its context and I do not believe this application can be justified within this specific context.
Please consider the following from the Plan:
a) Section 3.2.2: “Uses and activities which could be adversely affected by or which could increase the inherent physical hazards associated with an Environmental Constraint Area shall generally be prohibited”.
b) Section 3.2.3(a): “The erection of buildings and structures … shall be prohibited within an Environmental Constraint Area …”.
c) Section 3.2.3(e): “Environmental Constraint Areas shall be retained, wherever possible, for the preservation and conservation of the natural landscape and environment”.
d) Under section 3.2.3 (g), the Policy anticipates that portions of these constrained lands could be held under private ownership, as these subject lands are.
e) Section 3.2.3 (h) presents considerations for the redesignation of lands designated, as these subject lands are. Not only Council, but also the LSRCA and MNR shall have due regard for, “the existing environmental and/or physical hazards … the potential impacts of these hazards … [and] the potential impact of any proposed development on the Environmental Constraint Area”.
f) Section 3.2.3 (j): Council shall strive to establish natural corridors to support the linkage and interrelationship of Environmentally Sensitive Areas found throughout the community”.
In conclusion, I respectfully submit to Council and to Staff that the Township’s policy on these subject lands are quite clear and should be maintained. In addition, the Township’s goals and objectives for our communities have matured considerably since the inception of its community plans, and approving this redesignation would be a marked negative departure from this direction.