Bullet News has just reported that Fort Erie is now in a minor building boom.
According to a report prepared for Fort Erie Town Council, 29 building permits were issued in the first quarter of 2014.
"In fact, this is the strongest first quarter report in over 15 years." (from the report.)
Meanwhile, the Monday (May 5) Council in Committee meaning was dominated by a discussion about a development planned on Rebstock Road in Crystal Beach. It is not the fact that the land (some may remember Green Gables was on the site) is to be developed, it is the amount of proposed town houses that are planned for the piece of property and the set-back from the road for the units.
The discussion proved just who is on the side of the regular taxpayers and who is on the side of a developer who is a campaign donor and supporter of the mayor. Park Lane Homes dropped only one unit from their original plan, yet there is still a lot to be desired with what was presented on Monday evening. Neighbours, who adhered to existing zoning and building regulations when their homes were constructed, are now seeing a proposed development that challenges both space and safety precautions. Twenty-three townhouse units on the property in question is way too many for the neighbours and observant people to comprehend. The plan includes a cul de sac for the units that seems to defy the laws of physics. How emergency vehicles and even garbage trucks will be able to maneuver in the just barely compliant road during the winter has not even been addressed. The "mistake" made on the Hibbard Street townhouses under construction was explained away as though allowing units to be placed too close to the road is something that routinely happens. Meanwhile, neighbours will just have to "live with it." The neighbours on Rebstock are trying to prevent another such "mistake" that will only become more apparent once the units are built.
It would seem that the town's planning department has some 'spaining to do. Of course, the spectre of the OMB looms large in this scenario. Council has already been warned that if they turn down the zoning variance that allows less space between the units and the road, there will be an appeal filed at the OMB by the developer. (Unfortunately, the OMB has a proven track record of siding with developers in its decisions.)
While it is certainly good news that there are many building permits issued in the first quarter, it is still incumbent on the planning department and the council to make sure that the developments and buildings are being built according to proper zoning and property standards.
I personally think that Mayor Martin should have declared a conflict of interest since he has enjoyed the financial support for his campaigns from Ed Lenchyshyn the owner of Park Lane Homes, but that would never happen.
Observe how this plays out. It is a primer on how the planning department operates.
UPDATE: A longtime Crystal Beach supporter started a Facebook group to discuss Crystal Beach's future and politics. Everything was going along well for a while - then the North End Irregulars took over and ruined the conversation and the group by insulting and disparaging those who made comments that they did not like. So, they resorted to grade school mischief, perhaps because their own grammar and spelling challenged blog seems to have frozen right up. They crave attention, so they turned to the new group on Facebook.
Meanwhile, away from the Facebook trolls, some real progress is being made to improve Crystal Beach. Exciting plans are in the offing thanks to the community minded people who care so much about Crystal Beach that they stood up to fight to save the last piece of public beachfront property from a high rise development. Years from now, when people look back on this time, they will appreciate what these brave souls accomplished.
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