Comments from David Godley regarding discussion related to Official Plan: Neighbourhood policies, Section 4.15

Below is a comment from David Godley of Long Branch to Paul Bain of the City of Toronto:

Hi Paul,

Thank you for saving me TTC fares and letting me have a copy of the proposed wording which will be tweaked for the November 9 2015 Planning report.

Here are some comments to consider.

First the proposed policies are stonger than the current ones, so thank you. We are all working to the same ends to try to craft wording that will capture urban design attributes of new development to respect and reinforce neighbourhood character.

The OMB never fail to amaze me as to how they can interpret simple words. In fact it is almost as if the Official Plan does not exist in several of our Long Branch decisions.

How they can justify massing of soldier houses or monster homes borders on incredibility.

Also they, as non experts and with often a feeble grasp of planning, can decide they know better what is in the minds of the Planning Department when they determine intent of the Official Plan.

Adding to the explanatory notes that it is the intent of the plan to strengthen policies that have not been appropriately implemented before would help with “intent” and give a time perspective.

Will the explanatory note about building types remain intact i.e. prevailing, (predominant). Since there are more “prevailings” in the current version than the official version, perhaps this should apply to all of them.

The OMB in PL 150196 decided that prevailing includes 15% of building types and basically seem to feel a prevailing type is one found elsewhere in the neighbourhood study area.

Therefore a strongly worded definition of prevailing is critical. On its own prevailing is going to be ineffective at the OMB and needs clarification for Committee of Adjustments and possibly LABs.

My preference is for most frequently occurring for the nearby area and for the wider area come to that. This would be the strongest and clearest wording albeit less flexible. This would eliminate days of OMB hearings and of course we are guiding the Committee of Adjustments as well as possibly LABs.

If such a definition is not acceptable then the definition of prevailing needs to be as strong as possible. If the concern is that inappropriate development is in the majority, then recent developments that do not observe the Official Plan need to be removed from the analysis.

I would also like a definition of nearby which in urban design terms is how much properties visually contribute to the street scene at the point of development. Properties out of sight perhaps in a parallel street are of no real consequence.

We are getting a spate of contemporary flat roofed buildings which do not respect and reinforce character. Could roof design be added.

Happy tweaking,

David

[End of text from David Godley]

The text of the proposed wording, which will be tweaked for a November 9 2015 Planning report is as follows:

 

  1. Development in established Neighbourhoods will respect and reinforce the existing physical character of the geographic neighbourhood, including in particular:
  • patterns of streets, blocks and lanes, parks and public building sites;
  • prevailing size and configuration of lots;
  • prevailing heights, massing, scale, density and dwelling type of nearby residential properties;
  • prevailing building type(s);
  • prevailing location, design and elevations relative to the grade of driveways and garages;
  • prevailing setbacks of buildings from the street or streets;
  • prevailing patterns of rear and side yard setbacks and landscaped open space;
  • continuation of special landscape or built-form features that contribute to the unique physical character of a geographic neighbourhood; and
  • conservation of heritage buildings, structures and landscapes.

A geographic neighbourhood for the purposes of this policy will be delineated by considering the context within the Neighbourhood in proximity to the development site, including: zoning; prevailing dwelling type and scale; lot size and configuration; street pattern; pedestrian connectivity; and natural and human-made dividing features. Lots fronting onto a major street shown on Map 3 and designated Neighbourhoods are to be distinguished from lots in the interior of the block adjacent to that street in accordance with Policy 6.

The physical character of the geographic neighbourhood includes both the physical characteristics of the entire geographic area and the physical characteristics of the properties in the same block that also face the same street as the development site. A proposed development within a Neighbourhood will be materially consistent with the prevailing physical character of both properties on the same block facing the same street and the entire geographic neighbourhood within which it is to be located.

No changes will be made through rezoning, minor variance, consent or other public action that are out of keeping with the physical character of the geographic neighbourhood.

The prevailing building type and physical character of a geographic neighbourhood will be determined by the predominant form of development in that neighbourhood. Some Neighbourhoods will have more than one prevailing building type or physical character. In such cases, a prevailing building type or physical character in one geographic neighbourhood will not be considered when determining the prevailing building type or physical character in another geographic neighbourhood.

Except for apartment buildings and larger townhouse and stacked townhouse developments with common underground garages, driveways to below-grade garages that are integral to residences will be discouraged.

  1. Where a more intense form of development than the prevailing building type has been approved on a major street in a Neighbourhood, it will not be considered when reviewing prevailing building type(s) in the assessment of development proposals in the interior of the Neighbourhood.
  1. Proposals for intensification of land on major streets in Neighbourhoods are not encouraged by the policies of this Plan. Where a more intense form of residential development than that permitted by existing zoning on a major street in a Neighbourhood is proposed, the application will be reviewed in accordance with Policy 5, having regard to both the form of development along the street and its relationship to adjacent development in the Neighbourhood.
  1. Zoning by-laws will contain numerical site standards for matters such as building type and height, density, lot sizes, lot depths, lot frontages, parking, building setbacks from lot lines, landscaped open space and any other performance standards to ensure that new development will be compatible with the physical character of established residential Neighbourhoods.
  1. Infill development on properties that vary from the local pattern in terms of lot size, configuration and/or orientation in established Neighbourhoods will:
  • have heights, massing and scale that are appropriate and compatible with that permitted by the zoning for adjacent and nearby residential properties;
  • provide adequate privacy, sunlight and sky views for residents of new and existing buildings by ensuring adequate distance and separation between building walls and using landscaping, planting and fencing to enhance privacy where needed;
  • front onto existing or newly created public streets wherever possible, with no gates limiting public access;
  • provide safe, accessible pedestrian walkways from public streets; and
  • locate, screen and wherever possible enclose, service areas and garbage storage and parking, including access to any underground parking, so as to minimize the impact on existing and new streets and residences.

In situations where infill development can replicate the existing prevailing lot pattern to respect and reinforce the existing physical character of the geographic neighbourhood, the infill development application will be reviewed under and conform with Policy 5.

 

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