Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Potential Development Coming to Pelham

As I have written about before, Pelham has a few tracts of land set aside for new growth.

The largest is in the “East Fonthill” area – between Rice Road and Station Street / Steve Bauer Trail and from Regional Road 20 to the Town’s southern boundary (south of Merritt Street).

While much of the nearly 450 acres of East Fonthill lands are currently farmed – the corn was harvested last week – the entire area was added to the Urban Boundary by an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in 2000.

Recent questions in local media about whether property owners should be allowed to develop on those lands would have had to have been asked and answered during the OMB’s consideration more than a decade ago.

The OMB decision disallowed the inclusion of any lands to the East of Rice Road in the Urban Boundary and required the Town to undertake a “Secondary Plan” before allowing development to proceed.

All Towns and Cities must have “Official Plans.”  Essentially, an Official Plan contains policies and guidelines and outlines where commercial, agricultural, industrial, and residential developments can occur. It uses a series of maps to demonstrate those areas.

Like an Official Plan covering the entire Town, a Secondary Plan contains detailed policies and guidelines for growth and development for a specific area – in this case, this East Fonthill area.

Since the Province began changing their governing policies in the mid-2000s – adding the Greenbelt Plan, “Places to Grow”, and the Provincial Policy Statement – the Town needed to adapt our own policies and guidelines.  That’s one of the major reasons why it took until this Fall to finally approve this Secondary Plan.

Some of the goals of the East Fonthill Secondary Plan include ensuring a well-designed, attractive, pedestrian-friendly community with a mixture of housing types; encouraging significant retail / commercial development while at the same time protecting the existing Fonthill Downtown; providing a “Greenlands System” that protects existing environmental features and integrates with the Steve Bauer Trail system; and developing a pedestrian / cyclist-friendly and transit-ready road network.

It is estimated that 5,000 people could be living in this area within 20 years.  That’s why the Region (with a little assistance from the Town) undertook multi-million dollar improvements – installing water and sewer trunk lines along Rice Road, and widening Regional Road 20 between Station Street and the 406.

Some property owners in the East Fonthill area are now working on their next steps toward development and have suggested that the first-phases of construction could begin in 2014.