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Norfolk County tentatively approves sales of two streets

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Norfolk County is prepared to close and convey portions of two streets to a condominium developer who has ambitious plans for a section of the former Gamble Shipyard in Port Dover.

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Following two public hearings on the matter – the first in September of last year – council on Sept. 7 approved, in principle, the closure of about 40,000 square feet of road allowance on Lynn Street and Bridge Street nearby and the sale of this land to Shoreline Developments Ltd. as part of a housing project involving 375 waterfront condominiums.

A price has yet to be negotiated, but at an appraised value of $2.25 per square foot, the transaction could be worth as much as $92,260.

In a report to Norfolk council, Norfolk’s realty services co-ordinator Lydia Harrison said Shoreline Developments’ multi-million dollar investment is contingent on securing the road allowance.

“This is a unique situation due to the importance of the streets to the overall development,” Harrison says. “Without some level of assurance as to the actual conveyance of the property, the developer could be put in the undesirable position of undertaking a lengthy development plan with no assurance that – once completed – the plan is actionable as the decision to convey the property is unknown.”

Developer Blair McKeil has explained that he needs the land to conduct a proper environmental cleanup before proceeding to construction.

McKeil has filed reports that say the old road beds in this area have a bitumen base, a hydrocarbon associated with petro-chemical contamination. He estimates cleaning up the problem could cost as much as $800,000.

McKeil has also said the development will better complement the community if he can situate it a short distance back from the Lynn River. A concern that has been expressed is that the condominium project will reduce public access to the waterfront. In her report to council, Harrison says waterfront access remains an issue to be negotiated going forward.

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Questions and concerns about the transaction continued at the Sept. 7 public hearing. Margaret Creighton of the Port Dover Waterfront Association expressed concern about continued public access to the waterfront and the right of citizens to appeal council’s decision on this matter to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Port Dover resident Marion Gadsby expressed concern as to how this change may alter public access to this part of Port Dover and how the change may impact the character of this quiet residential neighbourhood.

In her report, Harrison said the road allowances can be conveyed in a manner that continues to allow traditional pedestrian walkways and vehicular traffic. One of the county’s stipulations is that the shifted road allowance remain a standard width of 20 metres.

Additional conditions include:

  • The granting of easements to Hydro One Networks and Nor-Del Cablevision.
  • The county retains the right to buy back the road allowances in question if – for whatever reason – the developer does not proceed with the condominium proposal. As well, Shoreline Developments would not be allowed to include the land in question in any sale to a subsequent developer without prior approval from the county.

In her report, Harrison said many of the questions and concerns raised by the public will be taken up with Shoreline Developments as part of the development application process.

As for the development application itself, Shoreline Developments referred the matter to the Ontario Land Tribunal last year after the deadline for the county to render a decision expired.

County solicitor Paula Boutis reported that the county and the developer have agreed to a two-phase hearing. The first phase will address flood-plain issues. The second phase will be related to design-planning issues.

Boutis says a case-management conference call is scheduled for November. Phase I of the tribunal hearing itself is scheduled for January.

If flood-plain issues are satisfied for all concerned, the Phase II hearing regarding design and planning issues will proceed next June.

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