© Guardian photo
Cornwall Town Hall
CORNWALL — Town council has a new official plan and zoning bylaw but the vote was not unanimous for either at the recent council meeting.
“This is a long procedure, as you know, to bring these motions to council today and I want to thank everyone (for their) contributions and insights,” said Councillor Peter Meggs, chair of Cornwall’s planning board committee.
Part of that review included public meetings where opposition came loud and clear.
Efforts to rezone parts of the town to planned unit residential development, or PURD, met with resistance, said Meggs.
The PURD zone allows developers to propose mixed development for a subdivision with increased density, such as apartment units mixed with duplexes, in exchange for factors such as environment protection or accessible units.
That style of zone in the core of Cornwall did not proceed, said Meggs, but other parts of the town remain as PURD zones.
Councillors highlighted some other problems with the new legislation.
Coun. Marlene Hunt noted the distinction between a highway that bypassed the town totally, and one that comes across the existing North River causeway and then veers north around the perimeter of the town. She said she has always lobbied for a new bridge across the North River to take the highway completely outside of Cornwall.
“This official plan, unfortunately, brings forth a perimeter highway,” said Hunt. “It just cuts through the town.
“I think it’s short-sighted, making a bottleneck down there, a real mess,” said Hunt. “We should do it properly, even if it means waiting.”
Meggs said that that economic conditions rule out the new bridge option.
“I think (P.E.I. Department of) transportation is looking at some compromise solution but it would be a compromise solution that doesn’t involve a second bridge because the costs have just gone through the roof, especially in this day and age,” said Meggs.
Hunt was the only councillor to vote against the official plan.
Then council went to first reading of a zoning and subdivision development bylaw that was also part of the review process.
That brought Coun. Corey Frizzell into the spotlight.
He wants areas of the town that have long-established, single-family homes be re-zoned R1 to reflect their existing development. They are, however, currently zoned R2 which allows for duplexes, and that has caused recent friction as developers move in to convert and remodel existing homes from single-family use to duplex rental units.
“(Coun. Frizzell’s) letter to us was appreciated but at the end of the day planning board could not support that,” said Meggs.
Re-drawing the zoning map would have further delayed adopting the official plan revisions, said Meggs. It would also not fully reflect the nature of the existing zones which do, in fact, have a mix of single family homes and multiple-unit residences, he said.
“If it’s any consolation to the deputy, the bylaw is amendable,” said Meggs. “Public meetings will be held in the future, and there are chances to continue to change people’s minds to the point of view about duplexes and R2.”
Frizzell voted against the first reading of the zoning bylaw.
Meggs went on to highlight some of the other major changes in Cornwall’s new official plan and bylaws.
The development officer of the town can now approve or reject variances of up to five per cent of the regulations.
The maximum height for accessory structures goes up to 14 feet from 12 feet but may require details such as site, drainage, or footing plans.
Signage bylaws have been deferred for consideration in the new year, said Meggs.
Private residences will now require two parking places, instead of 1.5 as in the previous plan, said Meggs.
“Semi-detached and duplexes are now capped at 20 per cent of the units in a block,” he said of another highlight.
“Everybody had a lot of time, a year and a half, to get a lot of opinions and a lot of perspective into the development of these documents,” said Meggs. “It’s all very, very appreciated and I think we have good documents as a result.”