3 Hamilton condo skyscrapers get Ontario Land Tribunal’s approval

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Published September 1, 2023 at 11:35 am

The Ontario Land Tribunal is permitting the construction of three residential towers at 310 Frances Ave. near the Stoney Creek lakeshore with commercial space and up to 1,390 apartment units. New Horizons Development Group (Waterfront) Inc., the developer, at one point said the project would have Hamilton’s tallest buildings, though it has since downsized the planned height of the towers.

The decision was made July 17 during a settlement hearing regarding minor variance and site plan appeals by New Horizons Development Group.  A minor variance or amendment to the City’s zoning bylaw is required when a change to the land, building, structure or uses doesn’t comply with regulations. 

The new proposal for the mixed-use development included minor changes to the variances the developer had initially sought. The City had rejected its previous proposal on the minor variances and the developer had appealed the decision in 2021. However, a settlement was controversially reached between the City of Hamilton and New Horizon Development Group without going through the land tribunal. The settlement deal was presented to the tribunal on May 25.

In a ruling issued July 17, the tribunal approved the site plan by Granziani Corazza Architects for 310 Frances Ave. It also gave the green light to New Horizons Development Group’s appeal and the variances or amendments to the zoning by-law, subject to conditions.

New Horizons Development Group didn’t immediately respond to inthehammer.com‘s request for details on the next steps and status of the project. 

The site is 2.061 hectares, with 58 metres of frontage along North Service Road, a frontage of 139 m along Green Road, and a curved section of 180 m along Frances Avenue. The site is vacant except for a sales trailer.

The three residential towers include a standalone Tower A, which rises 34 storeys atop a one-floor podium; Tower B at 44 storeys and Tower C at 37 storeys atop of a mutual four- to fivestorey podium. The site has 600 square metres of commercial space on the same level, 1,390 residential apartment units, and vehicular access from Frances Avenue and Green Road.

Amended application for towers ‘represents good land use planning,’ tribunal told

Sarah Knoll, a land use planner, was the sole witness during the hearing. She said “the minor variances, as amended, meet all the applicable four tests of the (Planning) Act and the provincial policy tests.” In addition, she said “all of the proposed uses are permitted” within the Urban Hamilton Official Plan.

“The amended application … represents good land use planning,” she concluded.

The four tests under the Act include that the requested variances maintain the general intent and purpose of the official plan and the zoning by-law; are desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure; and are minor in nature.

Knoll determined that “the proposed development is desirable and appropriate for the lands.” She testified that the “variances will not negatively affect the surrounding neighbourhood.”

Moreover, the site has “suitable amenity space for the residential units, and the landscape design will be supported by low impact … development implementation.”

As for the final test of being minor in nature, she concluded that the site of the residential units “does not impact the site’s ability to provide commercial uses, the reduction of landscape open space is a reduction of 5%, and the parking ratio will not result in over-spill onto off site locations.”

Knoll also concluded that the project has suitable transition between the built form and the townhouses across the street on the north side of Frances Avenue. She found that it has ample frontage onto the public road. However, she said the front yard does not meet the zoning requirements so a technical variance is needed. She also said there is sufficient landscape open space and an appropriate ratio of onsite parking.

The tribunal agreed with Knoll’s findings, declaring that it “finds that the proposed site plan is representative of good planning; has appropriate regard for matters of Provincial Interest” and complies with the zoning by-law.

Click here to read the full details of the ruling.

Lakeshore condo project had faced setbacks

Independent news site The Public Record reported that the project had faced setbacks including the City’s rare denial of its site plan approval.  The City cited in 2019 that the plan did not address concerns related to shadow, overlook and privacy for adjacent townhouse dwellings on Frances Avenue. The developer had filed a site plan application in 2018 for “three towers being 48, 54, and 59 storeys in height” with 1,836 dwelling units, which was larger than the plan that was recently approved.

The City had denied New Horizons Development Group‘s application for seven minor zoning variances and the developer had appealed it in 2021.

The Lakewood Beach Community Council, a ratepayers’ association in Stoney Creek, had reportedly opposed the plan because of concerns the variances were not minor, and lacked amenity space and parking.

The group reportedly said it felt blindsided by the City when it reached an agreement in principle to settle that issue without consulting it and going through the Ontario Land Tribunal first.

In an email to the City on Jan. 30, the Lakewood Beach Community Council, a ratepayers’ association in Stoney Creek, expressed its dismay that it was not advised about settlement talks and “has had zero input on the dispute resolution proceedings.” 

Lakewood Beach Community Council didn’t immediately respond to inthehammer.com‘s request for comment.

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