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Some residents irked by idea of living in each other's pockets (4 photos)

A proposal for an infill development off Campbell Street in Collingwood is drawing mixed reactions from elation to vexation.

A proposal to build a “pocket neighbourhood” in the centre of a developed town block is drawing sharp criticism from the surrounding homeowners.

Tobey Ridsdale owns a home adjacent to the proposed access road on Campbell Street. She brought several concerns to council during a public meeting on July 23.

“This development will have a profound impact on me and my family’s quality of life,” she said.

The proposal is this: build 24 single detached and four semi-detached dwellings in the centre of the town block bordered by Campbell Street, Hurontario Street and Findlay Drive. The land is largely landlocked except for two proposed access points. The main access point is planned off Campbell Street with a second emergency access point off Hurontario Street.

The development would be inward facing with condominium ownership and private roads. The new units’ rear yards would face the rear yards of the existing homes on Campbell Street, Hurontario Street and Findlay Drive.

The spaces in the centre of the pocket neighbourhood would be shared between condo owners and managed by the condominium corporation.

Lorne Kenney, until recently, was the owner of 774 Hurontario Street. His family has owned the property, including the now-defunct apple orchard where the new homes will be built, since 1915. He said it’s becoming too difficult to maintain that much property, and he’s impressed with the design for developing it.

“The design that has been developed is brilliant,” said Kenney at the public meeting. “It’s turning these pockets of land into something that is ideal for a community … I’m so pleased with the design, I want to live there.”

Other residents were critical of the design.

“This is a development turned inside out so it faces inward with a fence around it,” said David Howden, a resident on Maple Street. “Is that a way to build a larger community? I suggest it is not.”

Ron Craig called the Campbell Street entrance/exit a “cheap, short-cut solution.”

“If you’re going to live with the results for a long time, you want to do it well,” he said.

On Campbell Street, the proposed access follows a long, narrow strip of land between two existing homes. Ridsdale owns one of those homes at 24 Campbell Street, and had many concerns from safety for her kids and others crossing the street, to drainage, to lights from vehicles driving in and out of the street, to snow removal, to the impact of construction on her own home’s foundation.

She said Campbell Street was the longest and narrowest access point for the proposed development and suggested using property on Hurontario Street or Findlay Drive to gain access to or exit from the development.

The development, called Blackmoor Gates, is being proposed by Straw Hat Restoration, a company led by brothers Jason and James Harrison originally from Feversham.

“Blackmoor Gates is a pocket neighbourhood concept brought to us by Rob Voight, a visionary and forward-thinking man,” states the Straw Hat Restoration website. “We want to promote a community that is about more than being geographically close to someone or part of the same social network. Blackmoor Gates is about feeling connected to your surroundings.”

Currently, the developer has submitted an application to the town to rezone the property to allow for group or cluster dwellings, to establish Campbell Street as the front lot line and to make some exceptions for rear and interior side yard setback and allow for more narrow roads.

Collingwood Council did not make any decision on the developer’s application at the July 23 meeting, which is standard for a public meeting. The town is currently waiting for a site plan submission from the developer.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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