[UPDATE: Jan 23rd: The Shoppers Drug Mart decision has been delayed.]
Here's a letter Trent professor Stephen Hill sent to the Mayor and city councillors—and cc'ed the media on—about the redevelopment of Charlotte Street between Aylmer and Bethune...
"Dear Mr. Mayor and City Councillors,
I write regarding a report coming before Planning Committee Tuesday evening about the redevelopment of Charlotte Street between Aylmer and Bethune.
I am opposed to the proposed site plan for the following reasons:
- It is not consistent with a street scape that encourages pedestrian and active transportation.
- The building design has no second or third story and thus does not support the intensification of our downtown required by provincial legislation.
- It promotes a single purpose form of development. That is, the building will have little adaptive potential in 15 or 20 years, should Shoppers Drug Mart decide to vacate it in the future. The building design articulates the corporate brand rather than fitting into the existing and aspiring nature of downtown Peterborough. The development should hold enduring value for taxpayers.
- The site plan is inconsistent with the urban design expectations that were met by local developer Seven Hills in their new Collins Barrow building. The expectations for developers should be transparent and fair.
I am also concerned that last week's staff report to you (PLPD13-007) suggests that Council has already approved a preliminary "concept plan" for this site. I note to you the following passage on page 4 of the staff report:
"Staff have proceeded to process the Site Plan Application as though the concept site plan, already approved by Council, is a decided matter. The location of the building, the massing of the building, and the placement of the parking lot has been based on the approved concept site plan."
In my opinion, this is a mistaken presumption by city staff. Council minutes from December of 2011 make clear that the land conveyance is contingent upon a site plan agreement in keeping with "the general intent" of the concept plan that was presented at that time, not the concept plan itself.
"That the conveyances of City property and the improvements to municipal property be detailed in a site plan agreement and further, that the conveyances not occur until a Site Plan agreement has been executed for a redevelopment of 242-248 Charlotte Street and 321 Aylmer Street in keeping with the general intent of Appendix B, attached to Report PLPD11-081." (recommendation d)
This was confirmed in an email exchange between your Director of Planning and myself from last year (to which you were all copied). In that email, I was assured that "Council has only agreed in principle to the sale and exchange of certain municipal property in order to establish a parcel of land that is large enough to support a development of the scale proposed. The sale will only take place once Council has approved a site plan that captures the intent of the development concept presented" (emphasis added).
In my opinion, the general intent of the concept plan is for Shoppers Drug Mart to be on this parcel of land. The general intent implies nothing about the massing of the building or the placement of the parking lot, as suggested by the staff report.
While only Councillors can know with certainty your understanding of recommendation (d), I am concerned that the 18 January 2013 staff report infers decisions about the site plan that were not, in fact, made by Council. Indeed, because recommendation (g) of the December 2011 minutes - an amendment made during the meeting - requires the site plan return to Planning Committee for final approval, it seems fair to assume that the initial concept plan was not "a decided matter."
I would be pleased to discuss any of these matters with you further. I note also that I have copied this email to members of the local media who have written about this issue in the past - I expect your decision on this will be followed closely by many people in Peterborough.
I thank you all for your ongoing hard work and dedication to the city's governance and continued prosperity.
With kind regards,