Long Branch Conservation: Addendum to David Godley’s September 2015 update

11 Lake Promenade. A Reid Rossi special. OMB decides there is no major impact. Reid Rossi is the OMB hearing officer who approved 61 Long Branch Avenue and 20 James Street. He tends to treat members of the public with contempt. Caption details are courtesy of David Godley. Photo courtesy of Earl Davis who lives next door

11 Lake Promenade. A Reid Rossi special. OMB decides there is no major impact. Reid Rossi is the OMB hearing officer who approved 61 Long Branch Avenue and 20 James Street. He tends to treat members of the public with contempt. Caption details are courtesy of David Godley. Photo courtesy of Earl Davis who lives next door

The following information is from David Godley; but first a note about a Facebook video that I’ve posted:

I am pleased to share with you a video, posted at Facebook, in which Bill Rawson of Long Branch Furniture at 3150 Lake Shore Blvd. West recalls some of the entertaining things that he’s read about Elvis over the years:

Bill Rawson of Long Branch talks about what Elvis liked to do in his spare time

I mention this video because, in the year ahead, as a next step in development of the Preserved Stories website, we are going to start to focus on video podcasts, with top-quality sound and professional quality editing. The current video has less than perfect sound, but the on-camera work by Bill Rawson is of the highest caliber!

Our future videos will serve to publicize issues – in a manner that is riveting and entertaining, in order to attract vast numbers of viewers – affecting the character of Long Branch.

Among other things, we are looking forward to video interviews with people who attend OMB hearings.

What goes on at OMB hearings is of strong public interest,yet what goes on is currently kept to a large extent discreetly out of public awareness. One of the individuals who has begun to shed some light on what actually occurs is our esteemed local resident, and retired urban planner, David Godley!

Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further

And now, for the main event, the following text is from David Godley:

Although the de Gasperis case limiting minor to both impact and size has been modified by the North Barrie case, both size and impact have to be considered by the OMB.
The Divisional Court rashly assumed land use planning expertise at the OMB and gave them a little more flexibility in that they do not have to go by specific numbers.

Urban Design Guidelines. Both North and South Long Branch are the subject of a pilot project. The boundary will follow the railway from GO station to 22nd St.

58 Ash. Severance and Variances. 3 storey soldiers on 25 feet frontage lots the hearing date has been set for November 19 2015.

Community Planning Comprehensive review of files in Long Branch.
We are very grateful for such a list to keep us up to date.

Note from Jaan Pill: Following information, as I understand – correct me if I am wrong! – is from the Manager, Community Planning, City Planning – Etobicoke York District, City of Toronto

September 24, 2015 – Committee of Adjustment Hearing

There are two new Long Branch applications:

1. 9 Atherton Crescent – Staff are recommending that the consent and minor variance applications be deferred to provide an opportunity for the applicant to consult with Planning staff and the local community and submit a revised proposal that is more in keeping with the established physical character of the surrounding area and more in accordance with the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-laws.

2. 139 Lake Promenade – this is an application for minor variance relating to a carport addition. Staff have reviewed the proposal and are of the opinion that the application meets the tests outlined in the Planning Act.

There are two deferred applications:

1. 105 Twenty Second Street – (deferred from June 4, 2015) Although this property is technically outside of the “defined” Long Branch neighbourhood, I am including this application in the summary given its close proximity. This is an application for consent with associated minor variances. Staff are supportive of the consent as the proposed lots comply with the minimum lot area and frontage prescribed in the Zoning By-law. Further, staff are of the opinion that the proposed severance meets the criteria outlined in the Planning Act. No variances result from the lot division itself. Staff are not supportive of two of the requested variances relating to the height of the first floor above established grade and gross floor area. To-date, the applicant has not addressed staff’s concerns. Staff will be recommending refusal of these variances.

2. 45 Thirteenth Street – (deferred from July 2, 2015) Planning staff reviewed this application in May 2015. The staff report dated June 24, 2015 continues to apply. This is an application for consent with associated minor variances. Staff are supportive of the severance as the proposed lots comply with the minimum lot area and frontage prescribed in the Zoning By-law. Further, staff are of the opinion that the proposed severance meets the criteria outlined in the Planning Act. No variances result from the lot division itself. Planning staff previously identified concerns with the requested variances for floor space index and height of the first floor above grade for the proposed dwelling located on Part 1. Staff discussed these concerns with the applicant and recommended that they reduce the floor space index and first floor above grade height to be more in keeping with the Zoning By-law and the character of the neighbourhood. The applicant has since revised their proposal to reduce the floor space index from 0.97 (248.0 m2) to 0.73 (186.6m2). Based on the most recent revisions, staff have no further concerns with the application.

Application in Circulation – Hearing date to be determined

1. 22 Thirtieth Street – This is an application for consent with associated minor variances. Staff have reviewed the application and are recommending a deferral to provide the applicant an opportunity to have further discussion with Planning staff and the community to develop a revised proposal that is more in keeping with the established physical character of the neighbourhood and more in accordance with the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-laws.

2. 58 Ash Crescent – This is an application for consent with associated minor variances. Staff have reviewed the application and are recommending a deferral to provide the applicant an opportunity to have further discussion with Planning staff and the community to develop a revised proposal that is more in keeping with the established physical character of the neighbourhood and more in accordance with the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-laws.

New consent and minor variance applications in Long Branch:

1. 99 Ninth Street

2. 40 Thirty Eighth Street

These applications are currently in circulation for comment and are under review. More information to follow.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Many thanks,

Jill

Jill Hogan

Manager, Community Planning

City Planning – Etobicoke York District

City of Toronto

2 Civic Centre Court, 3rd Floor

Toronto, ON M9C 5A3

416-394-8219

39 33rd Street and Official Plan draft wording change

39 33rd Street. 3 storey semi deatached. OMB decision to approve based on other semi detached existing in area forming a prevailing building type.
Blair Taylor, OMB hearing officer had previously approved 6 Shamrock, and 4 27th Street severances.

Official Plan draft wording change

The new wording is much worse than that the Planning Department had previously drafted.

I have sent urgent letters to those involved.(see below) November 16 slated for Community Meeting.

Text of David Godley’s letters:

First letter

Dear Jennifer,

This is Long Branch calling for your help again although the neighbourhood character analysis issue is Citywide.

It is a follow up to my letter of last Friday to key people in the Official Plan Review process on Neighbourhoods (see in blue below) now we have received the latest “wisdom” from the OMB on 39 33rd Street.

There is a fundamental flaw in the thinking in the OP current version and hopefully this can be resolved via email. If not we need a meeting to discuss and possibly a revisit to PGMC.

We need a Flaw Plan!

The intent of the current Official Plan is excellent.

However interpretation by the OMB and development planners skews its meaning.
Therefore it is not working – big time in Long Branch. 10 adverse decisions recently based on analysis at the wider neighbourhood

Nor would the current wording work as presented in the draft Official Plan for the community meeting and creates extra problems.

I would like to disabuse all those in power and with influence that neighbourhood character should not be assessed on a wider area.

For analysis of neighbourhood character the street block or microneighbourhood is the critical component; the nearer the houses to the subject site the more influence they should have.

The street block/microneighbourhood I would define as those buildings that can be seen from the front of the subject site.

Drawing in a wider area was the downfall of the decision on 39 33rd Street (PL 150196) issued September 10 2015.

25 feet frontage semis were proposed on a street of mainly 50 feet wide lots. The 39 33rd block had 10 detached and one pair of semis.

The community has confidence in both Sarah O’Connor, lawyer and Anthony Hommick, planner as dedicated professionals.

Until the Official Plan wording reflects practical reality and good planning/urban design principles the same results will occur.

As well if we stick with the wider area hearings the process will become paralysis by analysis at OMB hearings (because of the extra prevailings) – more costly for the City and applicant and more nuisance piled on already stressed out citizens.

As Brian Haley knows from the 51 Lakeshore Drive file I have consistently sought to amend the City’s character analysis notions and Anthony Hommick and Nicole Ivanov will vouch for my consistency in recent hearings.

I believe Shawna Bowen of Urban Design and Denise Rundle also subscribes to my approach.

We need to look at the customers who are the people close to the development.

Human oriented solutions are usually the ones that work.

Steve Hilton’s seminal book (which is politically neutral) is essential reading for anyone involved in Government especially planning (or business for that matter.)
“More Human” Designing a world where people come first. 2015, Penguin Random House.

Also Denise Rundle and I are both of the opinion that the adjacent front house elevations shown in relation to the elevation of the proposal should be submitted by the applicant. Imagining a proposal and impacts is one of the most difficult things for neighbours to envisage although we as planners can judge it is a matter of course.

Other issues stemming from the OMB decision are that 1) new development that does not reinforce or respect the character of the area should not be included in character analyses.

Mr Hommick tried desperately to make this point to no avail. I have previously suggested adding “traditional” character to overcome this problem.

2) the word “prevailing” is not working. If there are a couple of houses of a particular kind this becomes prevailing in the OMB’s mind.

This needs to be changed to “most frequently occurring” or similar as supported in principle by Neil Cresswell.

I trust we can work this out between us with Barbara Leibel and Brian Liberty as my joint cohorts.

An acknowledgement would be appreciated.

We congratulate you on your continued fine planning work.

It is comforting that we can have faith in change for the better.

Yours truly David Godley, Long Branch 416-255-0492

Second letter

The Ontario Municipal Board have approved 3 storey semis after a hearing on July 30/31 2015 at 39 33rd Street.

The community were very pleased with the City’s representatives Sarah O’Connor, Legal and Anthony Hommick, Planning.

However they are fighting an uphill battle against an Official Plan whose misinterpretation by the OMB has been fatal for about the 10th time.

There are 2 fundamental problems which are being repeated in the draft Official Plan.

1) The word “Prevailing” is ineffective. This has been challenged by the trickiest lawyer on the rounds, Russell Cheeseman.

39 33rd St was approved based on the prevailing use of semi detached houses which make up less than 5% of the neighbourhood and only a pair exist in the microneighbourhood as opposed to 10 detached .

The inadequacy of the term prevailing was discussed and supported in principle by Neil Cresswell at our August 14th meeting. Much better wording is “Most frequently occurring”.

2) Numerous approvals has been given because there are other similar developments in the planner’s wider area.

The City always use a an area of a few hundred houses to gauge character and of course so do developers’ planners.

This is the undoing of good planning at the OMB.

In a heterogenous neighbourhood like Long Branch the wider area is largely irrelevant. It may be that the cottage character is a wider consideration but this is unique to Long Branch.

It should be struck from the assessment process used in the Official Plan because it does not accord with good practice in urban design analysis.

It needs an epiphany in the Planning Department to understand neighbourhood character is determined by each street.
An amalgam of street characters form the overall character. Street character varies even within streets and is basically formed by what can be seen at a given point.

If we have a block of semis surrounded by singles, a semi is appropriate. The wider area is irrelevant.

If we have a block of singles surrounded by semis, a single is appropriate. The wider area is irrelevant.

This is Urban Design 101 and I believe Ms Bowen of Urban Design agrees based on a short conversation I had with her.

It is also the way citizens which the City serve perceive the issue.

We appreciate the improvements to the Official Plan but the current wording in the draft will not work

while we are under the auspices of the OMB and LABs may not be much different.

I suspect before we move to LABs there will be an inundation of applications so they can be considered by the OMB.

I am requesting that the current Official Plan draft be changed to reflect these modifications before presenting to the public. At the very least bring the issue forward.

I and the community would like a response from the Mayor, our Councillor, and the Planning Department please.

[End of texts from David Godley]

 

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