Semi-detached concerns at Cornwall public meeting

Nigel Armstrong
Published on March 2, 2016

Cornwall ton councillors Elaine Barnes, Deputy Mayor Gary Ramsay and Shane McGuigan, have their eyes glued to the screen as town planning and development officer, Dean Lewis, outlines changes to bylaws relating to zoning, subdivision and development with the town. 

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Cornwall resident upset with new zone proposed for subdivision

Tyler Noiles didn't like the way his East Royalty neighbourhood was changing, so he moved to Cornwall. And now he is not pleased all over again.

A public meeting was held Wednesday seeking public input about rezoning an area of Cornwall known as Madison Heights.

It is a subdivision across the Trans-Canada Highway from the Cornwall Business Park.

Noiles and his partner, Tiffany Baric, bought a house in Madison Heights. Now the town wants to change the area to a brand new type of zone that will allow semi-detached residences on every lot.

Noiles asked for a definition and was told semi-detached means a single structure that has two distinct residential units side-by-side, separated by a concrete-block wall, where each unit can be owned separately.

It is the ownership issue that worries Noiles. He told the meeting he suspects people will buy the entire unit, live on one side and rent the other.

"When we first moved there, the neighbourhood's original zoning was just for single-family detached dwellings," Noiles said. "This was pretty important to us, moving into this zone because we were actually trying to escape a worse scenario that was happening in East Royalty."

In his former residence, semi-detached homes sprung up all around, could not be sold and were then turned into rental units.

"The value of the area went down," said Noiles. "It was just a relatively unpleasant place to live."

Signs up announcing units for rent make for bad "curb appeal," he said.

"My property value is lower if, when people are driving through, they see this as a transient neighbourhood," said Noiles. "This doesn't look like a place that I settle down in, set down roots and I grow my family if I see a 'For Rent' sign on all of these properties.

"Renters don't obviously have the same investment that the homeowners do," said Noiles.

"I'm trying to think long term, five, 10 years down the road when these aren't shiny, new, nice buildings anymore," he said of his Cornwall subdivision.

Coun. Peter Meggs, chairman of Cornwall's planning committee, said the town has been getting compliments about semi-detached homes already constructed in Madison Heights recently.

"We are really just getting opinions on this — if this is really the most appropriate thing to do — to rezone to allow for more growth like that," said Meggs. "That is what we want to hear about."

The council will take all comments from the meeting and others submitted to Town Hall by email or on the phone and consider them at a meeting of the planning committee. It will then decide to recommend or reject the proposed new zone in Madison Heights.