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Divided TBM council approves Clarksburg apartment proposal

'I don’t know what we’re doing getting in staff’s way and getting in the developer’s way,' says deputy mayor during lengthy back-and-forth between council members
Downtown Clarksburg. The building on the left would be the site of a new apartment building approved by The Blue Mountains council.

The Blue Mountains council has given its approval to a proposal to build a new multi-use apartment building in downtown Clarksburg.

At its meeting on April 2, council approved several resolutions related to a rezoning application from Andrew von Teichman for a mixed-use, three-storey apartment building with 10 residential units and two commercial units. The proposal includes two affordable/attainable units, for which the town will provide a financial grant through its community improvement plan.

The approval did not come without controversy with council voting 4-3 against a push that would have potentially delayed the project from moving forward in order to re-open discussion about whether or not the building should be two or three storeys in height.

At its previous committee-of-the-whole meeting, council approved the rezoning, but made several changes to setback requirements and the amount of parking required.

When the committee of the whole report came to council on April 2 for final approval, Coun. Paula Hope moved a resolution that would have seen council revoke planning department staff’s delegated authority to provide approval for the proposal’s site plan. Site plan approval for the apartment building is the next step in the process after the rezoning. The town has delegated authority to planning department staff to provide approvals for site plans in an effort to expedite the local planning process.

Revoking that authority on this project would have meant the proposal’s site plan would have come back to council at a later date for approval and more discussion.

“My intent is there be a discussion about the number of storeys for this development,” said Hope, who referred to public comments questioning the need for three storeys in downtown Clarksburg.

As part of her resolution, Hope asked that all efforts be made to “fast track” the development by planning staff.

The move to put control of the approval of the site plan in the hands of council did not sit well with other members of council.

“I don’t know what we’re doing at this council if we’re not going to be making decisions,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon. “If we push this resolution through, all we’re going to do is go back to square one. I don’t know what we’re doing getting in staffs' way and getting in the developer’s way. That’s not our job. It’s to make decisions.”

CAO Shawn Everitt warned council that the resolution could delay the project.

“It’s counterintuitive to suggest fast tracking when we’re revoking delegated authority,” said Everitt, who noted that staff had been given the authority to approve site plans for the express purpose of speeding up the process.

Ultimately, Hope’s motion was defeated with Bordignon combining with Mayor Andrea Matrosovs and councillors Gail Ardiel and Shawn McKinlay to reject the resolution.

Subsequently, council passed a series of resolutions coming out of the committee of the whole meeting to approve the rezoning for the project.

von Teichman attended the meeting and spoke to council prior to the discussion and the votes on the application. He told council that his team was working on ways to accommodate the zoning changes to the setbacks and parking requirements made by council at the committee of the whole session two weeks earlier.

von Teichman also expressed disappointment at some of the comments that were made at the committee-of-the-whole meeting about his proposal. He noted that he and his planning firm had worked very closely with town planners on the apartment concept and said that some of the ideas for elements for the project had come from town staff.

“Many of the comments and suggestions seemed largely disconnected from the years of work and feedback that has been coordinated by myself, Georgian Planning Solutions and the Town of The Blue Mountains planning department,” von Teichman said in a letter. “The entire project has been designed with extensive collaboration and feedback from the town planning department who support the project as proposed, along with the county.”

After the meeting, von Teichman told CollingwoodToday he was happy with council’s approval of the concept and looked forward to working with the community further.

“I’m pleased. I think the residents have some ideas to make this building work in the community,” he said. “I’m all ears to listen.”


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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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