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NOTEBOOK: Development notes, O’Leary in Kanata, music in Stittsville

UPDATE ON HAZELDEAN CAR DEALERSHIP
There’s a revised site plan online for the proposed car dealership at 5835 Hazeldean Road. The property is currently a gravel lot for the Canadian Auto Mall, with a temporary sales trailer on site. Continue reading


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LETTER: Community involvement points way towards a better planning process

Re: City and developer agree on further study of 6279 Fernbank

The unusual and unexpected adjournment and the conditions show the advantages to communities of having a party status at the hearing. Without this, I doubt if we would have been included at this point.

As the designated party, I put a huge amount of time and effort into preparing for the hearing, as did every member of our committee — my husband Gerry Kroll, The McKims, Diana Trudeau, and Glen McDonald. Those who could were witnesses for us, as well as Bob White and researcher and retired librarian, Faith Blacquiere of Glen Cairn. Jillian McKim also cross-examined the witnesses for the other Parties, as did I on the first day, before my voice abandoned me in the dry atmosphere of the hearing room.

We are glad of the opportunity to take part in discussions and studies over the summer and into September. Our involvement gives us a chance to support the applicant’s studies into what really happens to the water that runs through the site — where it comes from, its route and ponding, and where it goes — and to influence the final decision on whether or not this development should go ahead, and what form it should take if it does. While we don’t have power of veto, we will still have the right to present our summations, and, if the City and applicant reach an agreement that we don’t like, we will be able to include our reasons for disagreement in our final summation, for consideration by the Ontario Municipal Board.

I hope this experience will lead to a better way of doing things than is now current in the City of Ottawa. In many jurisdictions, it is normal for the community to be consulted and for a feasibility and viability study to be done for both the site itself and the surrounding community and lands, before an application ever goes into the city or municipality, especially for a site that does not fit normal parameters for development, such as this piece of wetland. Such consultation here could have saved thousands of dollars and months of hard work.

I’m not sure if the activities during this adjournment will take us to the conclusion that the surrounding community believes it should come to, but I hope that at the end there will at least be better understanding of the site, and cooperation among all parties going into the future. I commend the City and the applicant for including community representatives, and I look forward to having the future of this site finally resolved.

The site does, after all, perform a natural water management function within the surrounding communities and adjacent UNF (Urban Natural Feature), and between Fernbank Wetland and the Poole Creek Watershed. It may or may not support housing on an artifical 3.5 meter-high plateau without causing harm to existing lower-level houses — in my mind, it probably won’t. But it could definitely be a lovely wetland and woodland park for wildlife, much of which has called it home for many years, and people wishing to walk around a trail and boardwalk and enjoy some peace away from the hustle of the road, absorbing the calm of nature among the trees of this very special area.

Keldine FitzGerald, Stittsville


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City staff want councillors to refuse development at 6279 Fernbank

(Aerial image via Bing Maps.)

City planners are recommending that councillors formally reject a proposed development at 6279 Fernbank Road due to concerns about flooding and environmental impact.

(UPDATE APRIL 14: The city’s planning committee approved staff’s report to reject the development. It will be presented to city council on Wednesday.)

Continue reading


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Southwest Stittsville Community Association holds first meeting on April 16

You are invited to the first meeting of the Southwest Stittsville Community Association on Thursday April 16th at 7pm in the community room at Sobey’s (6315 Hazeldean Rd, Stittsville).

The purpose of this meeting is to establish our neighborhood association; which would be representative of the households south of the TransCanada Trail and west of Main Street. The association is a voluntary group of neighbours who seek to preserve the strengths of our neighbourhood, build a sense of community, and address any problems or issues that may arise. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate.

The proposed development at 6279 Fernbank Rd is a current issue facing our community. There will be an Ontario Ministry Board hearing on this proposed development on April 20th. The group presenting on behalf of the community would like to receive your input concerning this development.

Please join us on April 16th to meet your neighbors, hear about the benefits of a community association, and determine where we would like to go from here. Bring your neighbours and friends to help us develop a strong community association.

If you have any questions about this meeting, or are unable to attend and would like to provide comments, please send them to our community email address: swscommunityassociation@gmail.com.

We hope to see you there.
Sincerely,

Your SWS Community Association Executive
Jillian McKim – Co-Chair
Sheri Vermette – Co-Chair
Jennifer de Sa – Treasurer
Catherine Fafrowicz – Secretary


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PHOTO: Six feet of rock delivered to 6279 Fernbank

In the photo below, Fernbank resident Ian McKim stands in front of a pile of rocks delivered today at 6279 Fernbank Road, just behind his property.

The rock pile is one of three test pads to be built on the disputed land. The developer says they’re necessary for environmental testing, including hydrogeological testing to measure water levels on the site.

Rocks behind the McKim's house, March 2, 2015


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New community association formed for southwest Stittsville

About 30 people attended a meeting at Stittsville United Church on Monday night to establish a community association for the southwest area Stittsville.

Jillian McKim, one of the organizers, said a formal community association will give more weight to community concerns at an upcoming Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing in April about a disputed development property at 6279 Fernbank Road.

McKim said she also hoped the association would contribute to the community in other ways, for example holding community events or starting a Neighbourhood Watch, and addressing resident concerns such as parking and traffic.

The association’s boundaries are roughly from Fernbank in the South to the Trans Canada Trail in the north, between West Ridge and Stittsville Main.  The residents say that’s roughly the water catchment area affected by development at 6279 Fernbank, along what used to be known as the old Fernbank Creek.

City councillor Shad Qadri said that he opposes the development at 6279 Fernbank as it stands.  He says the City’s planning department has not approved the development because they are not satisfied with the environmental studies and technical information provided by the developer, J.P. Chenier, as part of the plan.

He says it’s now up to the OMB to decide at the hearing whether or not the information they’ve provided is adequate to proceed with the development.

Several volunteers agreed to take on roles in the new association, including Catherine Fafrowicz as secretary, Jennifer De Sa as treasurer. and Sheri Vermette and Jillian McKim who will serve as co-chairs. The group will meet again in the next couple of weeks.

The community association will be a party along with the City of Ottawa in the OMB hearing about 6279 Fernbank that begins on April 20.   The association is hoping to find volunteers with knowledge in engineering, water management, and planning/design who can assist with preparing for the OMB hearing and presenting their case in front of the board.  Keldine FitzGerald is the contact for interested individuals, and can be reached at keldine@keldine.ca.

McKim advised residents to start taking time-stamped photographs of conditions inside and outside their homes, especially water levels.  She says photographic evidence can be presented to the OMB that shows adverse impact of the neighbouring development.

“If your basement backs up when it rains or spring thaw, you need to take a picture,” she says. The group is also looking for any historical photos that residents have on file.

 


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LETTER: Developer’s explanation at odds with previous info

Re: UPDATE: Developer says Fernbank tree clearing needed for accurate testing data

The developer’s lawyer’s response to your query is at variance with what we were told.  When we enquired about the need for such large pads, we were told that they were required to support the drilling equipment and various other ancillary gear, such as generators.  The extensive road network was, of course, required so that the construction equipment could (a) remove the trees; (b) remove the organic matter (i.e., the peat); and (c) move and compact the fill necessary to build those roads and pads.

The original proposal for the hydrogeological “water balance” study submitted to the developer by Golder Associates (engineering firm) was buried in a large packet of affidavits submitted just prior to the OMB pre-hearing conference, and made no mention of the reason for the pads and the extensive road network.  The City’s experts did not question the amount of construction / destruction proposed by the developer, and clearly took the Golder expert proposal at face value.

The “water balance” study the City and the community asked for simply requested the developer to identify the source and quantity of water entering and leaving the site, to obtain a clear picture of the amount of water (storm and otherwise) that needed to be handled by the storm sewer infrastructure.  There was nothing in the request about having to do any construction on the site to get this information.  It’s obvious that the developer’s engineers do not understand that the water that has been observed on the site is flowing water that enters the site from off-site sources at the south, near the McKim’s property on Fernbank and leaves the site by draining into a storm sewer inlet at the Elm Crescent end of the Hemlock road allowance.  The water does not appear to drain into the adjacent Urban Natural Feature, in fact, the opposite seems to be true.

It is also clear that the developer’s experts and engineers have no understanding of the natural function of the wetland on this site.  From many years of observation, the Community has come to understand that the wetland functions as a natural storm water storage area.  Its elevation is significantly lower than that of the surrounding areas, and thus has become a complete storm water management system, constructed by nature instead of by man.  It stores large amounts of water, and gradually releases it into the underlying aquifer, with the excess flowing into Poole Creek.

The community has, on several occasions, including the 2002/2003 OMB hearing, tried to explain this natural function to the developer’s and the City’s experts, only to have these words fall on deaf ears.  This wetland does not fit into the experts’ textbook learning or the Ontario Storm Water Management Design manual, so it obviously can’t possibly be a storm water management system. 

It’s interesting to note that the site was once part of “Fernbank Creek”, and was shown as such on old topographical maps.  Fernbank Creek drained into Poole Creek.  It stopped being a creek when the streets and ditches of Cypress Gardens Phase II were laid out in the early 1960’s.  Until the storm sewer system along Elm Cres. was constructed in the early 1990’s, drainage to Poole Creek was by means of an extensive ditch system that nearly always had water in it.

I am particularly concerned that the City failed to engage the Community when the tree removal permit was applied for, and I am also concerned that the developer has proceeded with site preparation without having obtained the necessary subdivision approvals.  The City is hiding behind the concept of “the owner of a private property can do anything he likes, other than tree removal or building a swimming pool or putting up a building larger than 100 square feet”.  Why is the City unable to enforce the “Protection” part of an EP zoning?  Why does the City’s zoning bylaw allow building in an EP zone at all? 

Gerry Kroll, Stittsville 


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EDITORIAL: Good neighbours need to communicate, even developers

(Above: Part of the land cleared recently at 6279 Fernbank Road, south of Elm Crescent. Photo taken February 14, 2015.)

If I’m going to build a new deck in my backyard, or put up a fence, or cut down a tree right next to my neighbour’s property, I’m going to tell them about it first.  We’ll probably have a discussion.  My neighbour will want to know why I’m doing the work, and how it’s going to affect them.

Good neighbours communicate.

And when they don’t, you end up with situations like the one we’re seeing on the development property at 6279 Fernbank Road. Neighbouring residents in the Cypress Gardens area are upset because a huge swath of trees is being cleared so that the developer, J.P. Chenier,  can conduct environmental testing.

To be clear, the developers (J.P. Chenier, along with Cavanagh Construction who is assisting in the process) appear to have done everything by the book. They’ve submitted engineering plans for the testing and received a tree cutting permit from the City of Ottawa. As required under city rules, they notified residents about the work in advance by dropping a letter in their mailbox.

But while they may be fully compliant with all the regulations, they’ve failed to have a meaningful dialogue with residents to address their concerns.

Residents have contacted the developer several times since receiving the tree cutting notice to ask questions and have asked for a meeting. They want an explanation about what work is involved and why it’s being done.  They have safety concerns about the number of trucks coming through the area, the amount of noise the construction work is causing, and potential damage to wildlife habitat.

While they agree that some trees need to be cleared for testing, they believe the area being cleared is far bigger than what’s absolutely necessary.

Even if the work is completely justified, the residents still deserve an explanation. The lack of engagement from the developers is only breeding distrust, stress and anger amongst the neighbours.

“If they would even discuss or advise us of the schedule, it would help,” wrote one neighbour in an email to us earlier this week.

StittsvilleCentral.ca was able to obtain an answer to one of the residents’ questions this week, through a lawyer representing the developer. (Read more here.)

But it shouldn’t take a journalist’s request to get neighbours to talk to one another.

Note: This article was updated to include clarification of Cavanagh’s role in the development.


Residents in the area are planning a meeting on Monday, February 23 to form a community association in advance of the OMB hearing. The meeting is at 7:00pm at Stittsville United Church (corner of Fernbank and Stittsville Main). More info here…

What do you think?  Add your comments below or email feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca


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UPDATE: Developer says Fernbank tree clearing needed for accurate testing data

(Above: Some of the land that’s been cleared in preparation for testing.  Photo taken on February 14, 2015.)

For more than a month, residents living near 6279 Fernbank have been asking why such a large area of trees needs to be cleared for environmental testing on the development property. Borehole drilling at other development sites hasn’t required such extensive tree clearing.

StittsvilleCentral.ca received a response from the landowner’s lawyer this week: Continue reading


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UPDATE: Tree removal begins on Fernbank property

Construction equipment began clearing trees on Thursday from the disputed development property at 6279 Fernbank Road.

Neighbouring residents were hoping to delay the tree clearing until they had a chance to meet with the developer and the City of Ottawa to get a better understanding of what work was being and done. That meeting never happened.

Heavy equipment rolled in and started clearing trees from the property earlier this morning. Residents shared several concerns today with StittsvilleCentral.ca, including:

  • Concern about a family of four deer who’ve been seen frequently in the area
  • A lack of construction fencing to protect neighbours living next to the construction areas.
  • Concern about wood chips and other debris landing in backyards, which could pose a danger to children and pets.
  • Heavy construction traffic on neighbourhood roads.
Resident Ian McKim shows the size of wood chips that landed in his yard. He says construction debris poses a danger to children and pets.
Resident Ian McKim shows the size of wood chips that landed in his yard. He says construction debris poses a danger to children and pets.

 

Neighbour Joe Trudeau took this photo prior to this week, showing a family of deer who live on the Fernbank property.  Residents are concerned about loss of habitat for wildlife on the land.
Neighbour Joe Trudeau took this photo prior to this week, showing a family of deer who live on the Fernbank property. Residents are concerned about loss of habitat for wildlife on the land.

Tree clearing behind the McKim property next door on Fernbank

Tree clearing behind the McKim property next door on FernbankTree clearing behind the McKim property next door on Fernbank

The three photos above show tree clearing as seen from the backyard of the McKim property next door on Fernbank.  This part of the land was cleared to build a large gravel pad to drill a single  borehole in the middle.

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Trees to be removed from disputed development property

(ABOVE: Gerry Kroll stands in front of a large grove of trees that are slated for removal beginning this week.)

UPDATE (Jan 20): Tree removal delayed a day; more information about work required


 

Residents living near a disputed development property on Fernbank Drive are concerned about tree removal that’s slated to begin next week.

Keldine FitzGerald and Gerry Kroll have lived on Elm Street for over 30 years. A large number of trees on development land at 6279 Fernbank,  immediately behind their property, are slated for removal starting as early as Sunday.

The development is the subject of an OMB hearing coming up in April. The landowner has to complete additional surveys and fieldwork that involves digging test pits and drilling boreholes. The work is being carried out by Cavanagh Construction on behalf of the land owner, J.P. Chenier. Cavanagh has received a permit from the city to remove some trees from the land. Continue reading


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LETTER: Proposed development on Fernbank raises concerns about flooding

(ABOVE: Stittsville residents Ian McKim, Jillian McKim, Gerry Kroll and Keldine FitzGerald are concerned about a proposed 140-unit housing development on marshlands off Fernbank Road.  Photo by Barry Gray.)

Approximate location of the proposed development at 6279 Fernbank Road
Approximate location of the proposed development at 6279 Fernbank Road.

 

Editor’s note: Residents near a proposed development at 6279 Fernbank Road are hoping to engage with the community to keep people updated on an upcoming Ontario Municipal Board hearing expected in April.

As resident Jillian McKim  explains in her letter below, residents and the City of Ottawa are concerned about several aspects of the proposed development, including the effect it could have on stormwater drainage. Continue reading


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