A second electronic public meeting took place on June 25 as part of the review process connected to a residential development coming to land located at the eastern edge of Vankleek Hill.
Comments and input were received from the public and that meeting was adjourned. A special meeting of council was convened shortly after this first public meeting ended and at that meeting, the draft plan of subdivision was approved, with a list of conditions attached by the municipality’s planning department.
Note that now, the township’s resolution will be forwarded to the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, which has to issue the final approval for the project.
A second electronic municipal meeting was held because the livestreaming of the first meeting did not take place due to a technical issue.
Some of the members of the public who had registered to participate in the first meeting signed up for round two, while some additional residents requested a chance to add comments at the electronic meeting.
With about 331 households, the new development is anticipated to increase the town’s population by 993 persons, if each household has three occupants.
Residents at the first meeting expressed concerns that the development be in keeping with the existing Vankleek Hill community and fears about harming the environment and forested area were voiced.
At the June 25 meeting, concerns about traffic and damage to roads during construction were aired while Amy Mahon asked questions about the types of houses that would be built there, with a focus on ensuring that the houses did not all look alike. The developer was asked if local services would be used as much as possible.
Yvon Blais replied that the project had been started two years ago and that studies were done by firms in the area. He said that he could not guarantee 100 per cent if the project would use local services but that they were certainly making the effort to do so.
Linda Crawford pointed out the reason that people want to move here — that people were looking for a greener lifestyle and pointed out that there was no green space in the development. She expressed concerns about increased traffic and the school, located on Higginson Street.
Blais reiterated that more than five per cent of the required space will be given to the Ski Vent Clic cross-country ski club and that a parking lot will be created to afford access to the trail, with the added comment that the ski trail could become a year-round walking path.
Referring to potential damage to streets, Blais said that it would be the developer’s responsibility to repair any damage, if any.
Amy Mahon said she was born and raised here and her opinion was that the design was “sub-par”, but she thanked the developers for giving citizens the opportunity to be proud of the development. Mahon pointed out there was no green space, no path for walking, running or cycling.
COVID has changed the way business has developed and rural living is the new hip and it is so affordable, Mahon said.
She mentioned green spaces again, repeating that she supported the project but ended by saying, “Let’s find solutions. Let’s change and adapt together. “Vankleek Hill is my heart and my home.”
Blais repeated comments from the first meeting, saying that the homes were going to have a “country feel” and added, “We want to give you and the people of Vankleek Hill what they want.”
Heather Connors said it was important to retain the charm of the community and explained that having worked in the public health care field for 30 years, wellbeing, safety and quality of life were crucial. Connors said that her main concern was the type of housing being built in the development and the size of the lot.
She suggested making the lot size larger and asked about replica housing. Connors felt there was a lack of green space and said that with the epidemic of obesity, spaces for recreation should be developed.
Connors also mentioned the volume of traffic that would be likely on Higginson Street — traffic that would create a threat to public safety.
“We do not want the value of our homes to depreciate because of the homes being built,” Connor said.
She ended by asking council to make heritage and health top priorities.
Blais responded by saying that there would be 21 different types of homes. There will be a bungalow, or cottage style and there will be two-storey models and one-storey models.
“We’re not going to build a bunch of houses that are all the same. People will be choosing what they want,” Blais said.
“Your point is valid, but if a mother and a daughter want the same home and they want to live next to each other . . . ”
He also mentioned that due to the varying land elevation, there would be variety, with some parts higher and other parts lower.
Another citizen wanted to know if the municipality’s sewage treatment system could handle the expansion and wanted to see figures about the system.
We hope we have a chance to prove ourselves,” Blais said.
At the special meeting which followed the second electronic meeting for the development, Champlain Township senior planner Jennifer Laforest acknowledged the comments of the public.
There are 46 conditions which were contingent upon the approval and condition 12 specified that the dwellings would include a range of design features and colours to break up the building facade, that duplicate, mirror-image designs are discouraged, that the applicant is encouraged to incorporate architectural details, finishes and colours which complement the character of Vankleek Hill and that buildings on corner lots would carry design elements such as balconies and finishes to the exterior side elevation.
Most of the conditions are related to execution and completion of the project and to infrastructure requirements. But condition 5 specified an amendment to the plan to include three pedestrian walkways to support active transportation within the subdivision, outlining a pedestrian walkway and concrete sidewalk between Streets “B” and “E” and Streets “B” and “F”, as well as a pedestrian walkway along Street “G”.
In condition 4, it states that five per cent (three acres) or more of land area north of the proposed stormwater management pond on adjacent lands will be used to create a first portion of the multiuse trail, a cross-country ski trail, a trail head, signage and small parking lot. An access easement in favour of the Township of Champlain is also mentioned — for the purpose of extending a public multi-use trail and cross-country ski trail. The applicant would be responsible for creating trail signage and a gravel parking lot adjacent to the trail head.
Vankleek Hill Councillor Troy Carkner raised a question about the Home Avenue acess to Street “G”, saying that it looked like an unusual entrance.
“It’s not the traditional four-way stop,” Carkner said. Public Works superintendent James MacMahon acknowledged that was an area that would be examined.
The draft plan of subdivision will now need approval from the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.