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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sutton - 320-home adult condo gets final green light

320-home adult condo gets final green light


The Moatfield development planning odyssey is over.
Now called Jackson's Landing By The Lake, the 320-home seniors lifestyle condominium development in Sutton cleared its final hurdle after a two-hour meeting at council earlier this month.

Geared to well-heeled retirees, the development stretches between Black River and Hedge roads, east of Maple Avenue.

The new housing development will be constructed by Concord's Alliance Homes Inc.

Approval came after a last-ditch effort to have more assurances wells in the area will be protected if there is water loss due to construction.

Margaretha Vandervelden, president of the North East Sutton Ratepayers Association, leading the battle against the development, said she still has serious concerns.

"We must have a commitment from the council of the Town of Georgina the interests of the residents will be protected," she said. "We definitely still feel they're not willing to take any responsibility for the consequences."

She expressed fear the development's foundation drainage system and the danger of piercing the protective clay layer will lead to area wells drying up.

In a letter to the editor this week, Mrs. Vandervelden warned the construction "will result in the destruction of most of the on-site forest and require the removal of huge volumes of water (temporary and permanent dewatering), with harmful impacts to air and water quality".

The development will be serviced by the town's water and sewer system, but there is insufficient sewage capacity to service the rest of the northeast Sutton area at this time, she said.

The well monitoring system in place is inadequate and the "possibility remains that at a minimum 65 drinking water wells will be at risk", Mrs. Vandervelden told council earlier.

NESRA had asked council to approve 281 units instead of the 320, arguing that number better recognizes the site's environmental constraints.

Town planners disagreed with that assessment and noted the developer must post a letter of credit to ensure a well-monitoring program is carried out and any "adverse impacts" on area wells are dealt with.

Councillor Dave Szollosy questioned if that was enough.

"If a well does not recharge, there does not seem to be any onus on the developer to compensate," he said. "The language is not clear enough."

Council members agreed to add a further stipulation the developer must provide compensation if residents' wells are affected.

Alliance Homes president Alex Troop outlined his plans for Jackson's Landing By The Lake. It will be constructed in four phases over at least four years, depending on market conditions, he said.

"We recognize this site has some environmental issues," he concurred, adding homes will be constructed according to the Energy Star requirements that are 30 to 40 per cent more efficient than building code requirements.

He presented architectural drawings of the two-storey bungalows on 40 and 50-foot lots, as well as the community centre and swimming pool that will overlook Lake Simcoe.

Alliance Homes has extensive development interests in southern and central Ontario including Ridge Hill near Barrie, Butternut Village in Uxbridge, Hunter's Farm in Brooklin, Kelly's Landing in Barrie and a ski chalet development in Mansfield. The Rose Corporation of Toronto is providing financing.

Much of the south side of the property bordering Black River Road will remain in its natural wetland and forest state. The developer was also required to undertake several peer-reviewed environmental impact studies, including the sensitive Sibbald Creek that passes through the property on its way to the nearby provincial park.

Paul Harpley, president of the South Lake Simcoe Naturalists, warned the potential harmful environmental effects on what he termed a very complex hydrogeological site had not been adequately dealt with and the effects of climate change were ignored in the studies.

Lifelong neighbourhood resident Deb Banfield said she first learned the area would be developed about 25 years ago and plans then called for 75 estate homes. As the plans for more intense development unfolded, she said she was upset.

"It's a sad day for our neighbourhood," she said.

Town planning director Harold Lenters said the development has a long history, culminating in Ontario Municipal Board approval along with extensive consultation with a citizens liaison group, spearheaded by NESRA.

"In my close to 20 years here at the town, this is the most extensive application I've dealt with," he said. While he agreed the final deal is not to everyone's approval, he called it fair and balanced. "This is an excellent proposal."

With the proposal finally concluded, work will soon begin on the new Sutton secondary plan that will provide the blueprint for future development.

The Sutton area is expected to become more of a development focus with site preparation for 115 homes to be constructed by Oxford Homes off Black River Road across from Briar Hill Cemetery ready to proceed, along with the finalization of plans for the Shouldice 550-home adult lifestyle development and 18 hole golf course off Catering Road.

The Sutton-By-The-Lake adult village across from Jackson's Landing By The Lake is also set to begin a multi-phase expansion that will see 193 homes constructed to join the 127 already there.

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