Citizens sidelined in development process

There are after all three affected parties, and once council approves the application you are completely SOL (Shut Out Laddie).

Editor: In our local newspapers, Councillor Grant Ward is reported as living in Murrayville and saying “Our citizens are uncomfortable this term, expressing uneasiness, dismay & much dissatisfaction.”

He goes on to lay the blame on the top leader. My wife and I and many others in one area of Murrayville place the blame elsewhere.

A developer had an application with the Township for a townhouse development in Murrayville. There were many concerns about this development. One of ours was the density in UPA – units per acre. The density supported by the Township allowed 59 additional homes to be built compared to average UPA of bordering complexes (including a condo building), 60 homes when compared with the average UPA of all the townhouse complexes in the Township’s report and 32 homes more than the townhouse complex with the highest UPA.

The explanation was this — these were three-storey townhouses, therefore more of these homes can be crammed in per acre than two-storey homes of the same square footage. So be it. The developer also required a variance because in order to achieve the required number of parking spaces more trees would have to be chopped down.

Unbeknown to my then five-year-old grandson, I set this problem before him while playing with him and his LEGO. Well, he solved that problem. On the other hand, Ward wanted to give the whole shebang away to the developer. Thankfully more reasonable heads prevailed, with the application being referred back to staff for a report (the only vote against was from Ward).

When the report was presented to council, the developer had found a way to overcome the parking problem and reduce the above UPA numbers by a couple of homes. Cpuncillor Kim Richter asked staff a number of questions regarding the report having any consultation, input or contact with the public who had shown concerns at the public Hearing. All were answered with a no.

The only question that gained a yes was when staff was asked if the report had been a product of only the staff and the developer. Richter then tabled a motion to refer the report back to staff for some sort of consultation with the public. Now showing their true colours, not one councillor would second her motion.

“Sorry guys, you join Grant being dropped from our voting list.” The application was passed with only Richter opposing the application.

This time around we would like to have a council who will give the public a fair shake of the stick, especially with developments. I know there are other occasions where the public (taxpayers) have been handed a raw deal.

As the council, by law, cannot have any association with the public after a public hearing, I would like to see a council which makes it mandatory for staff to have further consultation anjd input from the concerned citizens. There are after all three affected parties, and once council approves the application you are completely SOL (Shut Out Laddie).

I would also like a council that is accountable and responsible for staff’s actions. In our case, we asked for a copy of a traffic study from the developer prior to the Public Hearing. We didn’t get it.

Later we asked the Township for a copy. We were given, by a senior staff member, the name of a different traffic study. six months after the public hearing and four months after the application’s approval we were told we had been on a wild goose chase, as the study didn’t exist. We were given the correct traffic study along with other documents we had asked for.

We challenged the Township, who had accepted and approved this study as part of the application, to verify how the variance numbers were derived between the “before” and “after” development diagrams. To this day we have received absolutely nothing from the Township, which makes one wonder if a rubber stamp is being used.

As a more recent example: What would have been the consequences had the public not advised council that staff” was using outdated school data on another project.

Norm Iveson,

Murrayville