Office complex proposed for Simcoe

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A prominent location in a high-traffic area of Simcoe is poised for redevelopment.

In play is a 1.4-acre parcel at Norfolk Street North and First Avenue West. The land is on the west side of Norfolk Street North, immediately south of Davis Street West.

Sponsor of the proposal are former Haldimand councillor Fred Morison, the owner of several insurance brokerages in Norfolk County, and an Ontario numbered company under the name of Ike Keesmaat.

Together, they intend to build a 7,760-square-foot office building and nine residential units in two townhouses.

A building that had been on the parcel for about 30 years was demolished in September. In its time, the building housed a radio station, a real estate office and, more recently, the office of an insurance adjuster.

“I’m excited about this,” Mary Elder, a planning consultant acting on behalf of the applicants, told Norfolk’s public hearing committee on Oct. 6.

“It would be nice to see a new building there.”

The meeting was devoted to preliminary reviews of planning applications in the queue. This application was comparatively straightforward and uncomplicated, with no serious concerns expressed.

However, the applicants are seeking a number of changes to ensure their proposal complies with Norfolk’s official plan and zoning bylaw.

This includes the conversion of a portion of the parcel from its current commercial designation to urban residential. As well, a zoning change to residential R4 is required to accommodate townhouse density.

The applicants also seek variances from current county requirements for front-, side-, and rear-yard setbacks.

In her report, Elder said the amendments are worthwhile given the investment her clients are prepared to make. She noted that the nine-unit residential component “contributes to the county’s 15-per-cent target for multi-residential development.”

She added that infill development within urban boundaries is a provincial priority.

Elder also gave assurances that the office complex will have little impact on adjoining residential properties, with little activity expected on site during weekends when many people are active in their backyards.

The public hearing committee received the planning report and Elder’s presentation as information. A subsequent report will come to the committee at a later date with a staff recommendation for further action.