Norfolk council took a 90-unit apartment proposal in Port Dover for a test drive at their June 25 meeting.
The six-storey waterfront development – called Misner Landing — is slated for the former Misner Fertilizer property on Lynn Street.
The county held a public meeting on the proposal.
This meeting was different in that the developers – Heather-Jo Causyn, Jeff Causyn and Jeff Miller – have the opportunity to adjust their proposal in light of the feedback received.
The proposal will be the subject of an upcoming open house in Port Dover. This will be followed by another public meeting where planning staff will provide recommendations and council will vote on the required zoning change and official plan amendments.
Comments from the public at the June 25 meeting were mixed. Andrea Simpson of Silver Lake Drive said the concept presented for the 1.65-acre property is a big improvement over the derelict structures on site.
“I look out my window every day and look at this mess,” she said. “I am so in favour of this project.”
Others aren’t keen on the height or the density. Norfolk caps the height of buildings along the waterfront in urban areas at four storeys. This proposal will need an exception to that if it is to move forward as presented.
“Once this towering condo is built, others will follow,” said Janice Lackie of Port Dover. “It will change the character of our small town, and there is no going back.”
The developers are represented by planning consultant John Ariens of IBI Group in Hamilton. Ariens said the developers have opted for a strictly residential development with no commercial component. He said the developers have no desire to compete with downtown businesses.
Ariens praised the concept for the building as “architecturally unique.”
Some on council aren’t so sure. Mayor Kristal Chopp called the building’s design “institutional.”
“I’m just not convinced we are there yet,” Chopp said. “There are so many architectural components and features we should be looking at. It’s not that I don’t support the project. I do. But the architectural component of it – to me – is huge.”
Port Dover Coun. Amy Martin agreed. She noted that nautical themes are replicated architecturally throughout Port Dover. Martin would like to change that with Misner Landing in a way that evokes Port Dover’s agricultural past.
Both Martin and Chopp were intrigued by an old photo of the Misner fertilizer plant, which was similar in appearance to a Norfolk Co-op feed and grain depot circa 1950. Martin would like elements of that history woven into the proposal.
Windham Coun. Chris Van Paassen also likes that idea.
“It will make a nice anchor on that corner,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to forget the history of that property.”
Ariens said there are possibilities here.
“We will take a look at those old photographs and see what we can incorporate,” he said.
Misner Landing – along with all new development proposals in Port Dover – faces other challenges aside from securing council approval.
Council recently imposed a moratorium on new development in Port Dover due to water servicing issues.
There is concern the rapid pace of growth in Port Dover is outstripping the ability of the water treatment plant on Nelson Street West to supply the system. Misner Landing and other housing proposals in Port Dover will idle in the queue until the problem is resolved to the county’s satisfaction.