Council asks for modified proposal on Werret Ave.
A Simcoe family was asked this week to come up with something more modest after Norfolk council rejected their plan for a backyard entertainment venue.
John and Marlene Smith of 16 Werret Ave. approached council Tuesday with plans for an accessory building 21.65 feet tall with a floor area of 710 square feet. The proposed structure includes a kitchen and a “habitable room.”
The neighbourhood at issue consists of single-family dwellings. Many residents filed emails with the county in opposition to the proposal. Several others spoke against it during a public meeting under the Planning Act at Governor Simcoe Square on Tuesday.
The difficulty most have is that the proposed structure is out of scale with the surrounding neighbourhood.
The Smiths sought permission to exceed the county’s maximum allowable height of 16.25 feet. They also sought relief from the provision limiting the area of accessory buildings to 592 square feet or less. Some described the structure as a potential “eyesore.”
“We will be forced to invest in mature landscaping to try to obscure the view of this structure,” neighbour Patrick McElhone told council. “This impairs our ability to enjoy our backyard.”
Norfolk planning staff recommended approval. In his report, planner Steven Collyer said the addition “assists with improving the vitality of the community.” Collyer added the relief sought “is considered appropriate in the context of the subject lands.”
“My friends, this is not the kind of neighbourly vitality we want in Simcoe,” Ian Shaw told council. “I hope this isn’t the kind of vitality you imagine for our community. This is a gigantic party house. Who wants that on their street or next door? Why open the door to it?
“This would become the de facto new normal for neighbourhoods such as ours. We don’t need this change.”
Local realtor Janet Kazakevicius spoke in favour of planning decisions that respect neighbourhood esthetics.
“Why do we have zoning bylaws if we’re not going to comply with them?” she said. “It’s not to the benefit of our community to detract from the beautiful homes we have in our county.”
Others expressed concern about the kitchen amenities and the “habitable room.” There are concerns the space might become an AirBnB rental and eventually a legal residential dwelling. There are also concerns a large backyard building like this might depress surrounding property values.
Mayor Kristal Chopp worried developments like this would proliferate if Norfolk sets a precedent on Werret Avenue.
“We shouldn’t be handling these on a piecemeal basis,” the mayor said. “If you do it for one you should be prepared to do it for all.”
Councillors Kim Huffman, Tom Masschaele and Ian Rabbitts shared concerns about the size of the proposed structure.
Prominent Homes of Simcoe is the contractor for the project. Builder Sam Bunting rejected the suggestion the structure might become a venue for wild, disruptive parties.
“They (the Smiths) are very reputable people in the community,” Bunting said. “They’re looking for a space to entertain and a place for their family.”
Council deferred the application. Bunting and the Smiths were encouraged to huddle with planning staff and come up with a concept more compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood. If there is a meeting of the minds, a modified application will be tabled at a future public meeting.