James Baldwin adds a comment regarding “Urgent need for planning initiatives.” The topic concerns OMB decisions in Long Branch.

Update:

I have been copied on an exchange of emails, dated March 9, 2015, indicating that (and I quote):

“… there is no ‘settlement’. The City will no longer oppose the application because of the reduction in density and length of the house. At the hearing, the developer’s counsel will present the revised drawings. Residents still have the opportunity to speak either as a party or participant and present their concerns to the OMB board member.”

With regard to this detail, David Godley has recently commented (among other things): “This is useful information that I did not have before. So I think full presentations are in order.”

[End of update]

 

Subject: RE: Urgent need for planning intiatives

Dear Government Officials (City and Provincial Representatives),

I was one of the local residents, of Long Branch, involved in the February 13, 2015 OMB decision for 20 James Street. My house, at 50-Thirty Seventh Street, is located just to the north of 20 James and I have lived, maintained and paid taxes here for over 30 years.

Also, at the OMB Meeting and in opposition to the proposed plan at 20 James Street, were a number of the Long Branch residents (although if these forums were set up fairly every person I talked to in the immediate area would have been in attendance and against this plan), Stacy McFarlane and Anthony Hommick representing the City of Toronto’s opposition and according to the OMB chairperson, Mr. Rossi, numerous emails and correspondence from people in the area also in opposition. On the other side of the table was the developer Mr. Romano and their lawyer Mr. Ketchenson and one family from the local area in support (who, from what I understand, have applied for severance to their property).

So let’s sum this up….all in favor 3, all against everyone else? Local residents opposed to it, City or Toronto opposed to it, City Councilor Grimes opposed to it, City Planners opposed to it, City by-laws opposed to it, Provincial representation opposed to it! A majority of people with a myriad of reasons…I guess the logical, judicial and fair thing to do is allow them to sever the property and build what they want…that’s what the outcome was…WHAT A JOKE!!!!

Further to that, this ludicrous decision in favour of the severance and variances was made after being denied at 2 Committee of Adjustment Meetings and one OMB tribunal already!!! How many chances do they get exactly? How much money and time do local residents and city officials have to spend to oppose this proposal? The appeal process would appear to be endless until a decision in favour of the developer has been set in place.

I feel this final OMB decision, of February 13, 2015, was made arbitrarily, expeditiously and without merit or substance and certainly does not represent the best interest of the constituents (tax payers), the Long Branch neighbourhood, the city by-laws or the City of Toronto and should be appealed by the City of Toronto immediately. Do the constituents and the opposition to this decision have a recourse?

I would also like to add that I felt the chairperson of this court, Mr. Rossi, was prejudicial, biased and unsympathetic to the evidence presented or evidence was not allowed to be submitted. His castigation of Mr. David Godley, from the outset of the hearing and the expertise evidence Mr. Godley was to submit.

I felt this chastisement of Mr. Godley was absolutely unprofessional, partisan and uncalled for and he was summarily dismissed. Mr. Rossi’s condescending and hurry up approach to the resident’s of Long Branch and the hearing was also a farce. For example, I brought my neighbour (in -30 C weather) Mr. Rudy Horah who is 83 years old, has lived in the house next door to 20 James Street since 1958, and was given 1 minute to summarize what impact this development might present for him and his invalid wife?

Is this the way these tribunals are supposed to operate? Is this the respect that they show the tax payers and concerned citizens of this City? Do you think we want to be at these types of beaurocratic assemblies? Are we now to concede these historical neighbourhoods and the city to the hands of the developers and the money that backs them?

Does the testimony and the negative impact of the OMB decision of just two residents, with almost 90 years occupancy in the area, not count for anything? Is every 50 foot property now subject to severance in Long Branch area? This decision is going to have implications that will resound through the area for years to come!!

1) My first question, will the City of Toronto mount an appeal based on the incongruous decision made at the OMB meeting of February 13, 2015?

2) When will OMB be dissolved and the decisions on these types of matters be given back to the city and municipalities where they belong? This would be the only fair and just way of conducting these matters. When will Mr. Tory and Mr. Milczyn be meeting to discuss, seriously, about the farcical representation of the OMB…obviously it does not work.

3) When will the tax payers and resident’s feelings, arguments and discernment be taken into serious consideration when it comes to their neighbourhoods and the impact that this type of development may have on them but more importantly on the long term affects of the historical areas?

In closing I would like to say, like a lot of people these days, I have become very disillusioned with the state of our Governmental affairs from the Municipal, Provincial and the Federal stage. Our tax dollars and representation seem to not be considered and poorly portrayed and that is a travesty to the hard working tax paying people of this City and Province… we deserve more.

After witnessing the OMB in action, how it operates and its unjust decisions it further cements my discontent with the current state of affairs…it’s time you did your job and fix something that is so obviously broken!!!!

Yours Truly,

James T. Baldwin
50-Thirty Seventh Street
Toronto, ON M8W 3L8

(416) 252-6548

In his message, James Baldwin referred to previous messages:

1) Change local planning’s evidence on neighbourhood evaluation to the Official Plan Review Team’s method.

This will strengthen the City’s cases before the OMB and can be done immediately by the Planning Department.

Two recent approvals over everyone else’s objections highlight the need.
20 James (pl 141217) was one decision.

Here the Chair abbreviated everyone’s evidence so he could get a good start on the weekend (see green below).

He does not take account of residents views or impact on resident’s lives. He intimidated participants.

He ignored conformity with the Official Plan.

He ignored “major” variance especially in light of the Divisional Court De Gasperis decision.

His “logic” means any 50 feet wide lot in the neighbourhood can be split and probably in many more neighbourhoods.

He has no qualifications on planning and only a basic grasp of good planning and none on urban design.

Unsatisfactory OMB hearings are not atypical.

2) Prepare a zoning bylaw amendment to prevent large lots being built on one side then doubling the density by adding another house on the other side of the lot.

86 23rd Street OMB hearing starts 19 March.

This is an example and of City wide importance.

An owner has built one narrow tall house to one side of a 50 feet lot and has applied for severance and variances to build a twin.

Since the character has already been to some extent lost this helps the developer to justify another similar house.

Local Planning’s “study area” approach cannot address this using the 20 James Chair’s method of neighbourhood analysis ie if there is an example in the study area/neighbourhood it can be approved.

Below is Planning Evidence based on the Official Plan Team’s view, as I understand it.

Planning Evidence

OFFICIAL PLAN POLICIES

The specific OP policies with which I am concerned are as follows:

Neighbourhood Character

3.1.2.3 “New development will be massed and its exterior façade will be designed to fit harmoniously into its existing and/or planned context…”

4.1.5 “Development in established Neighbourhoods will respect and reinforce the existing physical character of the neighbourhood including in particular:…
c) heights, massing, scale and dwelling type of nearby residential properties;” My underlining.

NEIGHBOURHOOD CHARACTER ANALYSIS PROCESS

I analysed the 13 lots in the row in which the subject lot is approximately the middle. These are the nearby lots. Other developments in the neighbourhood are not relevant to façade design and massing because this is the framework that one sees passing along 23rd St.. If there are large lot singles around the corner on Alder Crescent or semis or townhouses or apartments, this is immaterial. This is the method used for evaluation by the City’s Official Plan Review team.

NEIGHBOURHOOD CHARACTER ANALYSIS

The grid of influences shown in map form in Appendix B relates to the grid below.

23rd# Frontage (feet) Density Planned Density Storeys
66 50 0.28 0.35 2
68 50 0.29 0.35 2
70 50 0.20 0.35 1.5
78 50 0.14 0.35 1
80 50 0.17 0.35 1
86 50 0.36 0.35 3
90 50 0.18 0.35 1.5
92 50 0.16 0.35 1.5
98 50 0.26 0.35 1.5
100 25 0.35 0.35 1.5
102 25 0.46 0.35 1.5
106 49 0.20 0.35 2
108 25 0.41 0.35 2

Average 44 0.17 0.27 1.7

86 50 0.36 0.35 3
(proposal x2) 25. 0.72 0.35 3

The proposal is 40% reduction of typical frontage
The proposal is 420% of typical density
The proposal is 210% of typical planned density
The proposal is 47% increase in typical # of storeys

6) The massing is more than quadruple the existing density and more than double the permitted density of the block. Naturally it has severe impacts. The existing tall thin house design is opposite to the street character with wider lots and lower, smaller houses. It does not accord with Official Plan policies on reinforcing and respecting neighbourhood character. To allow a second house would double the problem. The existing house should be allowed to have a single storey added to it at the north side to balance the disruption to the rhythm of the street. A variance application would be needed for density.

 

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