Keast Drive builder ready for appeal if project rejected
A Sudbury developer is so confident in his plan to build homes on Keast Drive, he says he will “definitely” appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board if the city turns him down.
Developer Norm Eady, who wants to build 63 single-family lots and 72 along the shore of Ramsey Lake, said he was ready to dispel “misinformation” about his plan.
Opponents, many of whom attended the first of two public hearings on the issue Feb. 11, have argued that the development will hurt water quality in Ramsey, a key source of drinking water for the city, and will add traffic to an already overloaded area near Laurentian University.
Paul Baskcomb, the city’s director of planning services, told members of the planning committee that there are a number of restrictions to building in that area because of the need to protect water quality.
A previous application for a much smaller development on the same land was rejected by the Ontario Municipal Board, Baskcomb said, because the new homes would have been on septic tanks. There are already dozens of homes in the area on septic tanks, which is believed to be a contributing factor to the growth of blue-green algae in area lakes.
“There are special policies that apply to this particular area,” Baskcomb said, including a ban on new homes until city water and sewer services are available.
To preserve open spaces in the area, Baskcomb said maximum density for any development is limited to 10 units per hectare. That means the density of the development can’t exceed about 10,000 square feet per unit.
“That’s much lower density than you would find in other parts of the living area,” he said. “And that’s even after sewer and water services are available.”
The units must be at least 30 metres from the shore and there are stricter rules for parkland requirements and frontages, he said.
After Baskcomb’s presentation, several speakers lined up to object to the proposal, with many of them calling for a moratorium on all building near Ramsey Lake.
Lily Noble, co-chair of the Ramsey Lake Stewardship Committee, said while Eady insists he has dealt with environmental concerns related to building in the area, she said his plan will increase stress on the lake. What’s needed, she said, was a completed environmental impact study and a recognition that development should no longer be allowed next to Ramsey Lake.
“We have, of course, concerns about drinking water,” Noble said. “What we need is a proper watershed study.”
That study can pinpoint the major causes and impact of the blue-green algae problem, she said. And no development should be allowed to proceed until they know for certain what is contributing to the problem, she said.
“We find it difficult to assess what the environmental impacts will be of this development on Ramsey Lake because there is no environmental impact study yet.”
I’m looking to fix this up, put some money in and some work and effort make Sudbury a better city.
Naomi Grant, chair of Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury, expressed similar concerns, but added that the impact of all the development going on around Ramsey Lake should be considered, and not just the impact of the Keast Drive proposal.
“The proposed development will further impact water quality,” Grant said. “This development would add salt, phosphorus and other contaminants directly to the lake in storm-water runoff.
“We feel at this point that the application should be denied.”
Other speakers objected to traffic concerns.
Mark Browning, who is the frontman for Ox, a local rock band, made an emotional appeal to stop development on the lake. He said the lake must be protected for the sake of future generations.
“I think when we develop these areas, we’re selling out the quality of life for our kids,” Browning said. “When Ramsey Lake suffers, we all suffer.”
Eady was allowed to respond to the criticisms when all the speakers had their turn. He directly refuted most of what they had to say.
For example, while some speakers said studies needed to approve the project weren’t done, he said “99 per cent” of the required studies have been done.
While many people said the development would hurt water quality in Ramsey Lake, he countered that he was bringing water and sewer services to the area, and about 80 homes in the area could get off septic tanks and onto city water and sewer systems.
“Half the people that were up here, their septic tanks are polluting the lake water right now,” he said.
He said it’s “ridiculous” to argue that the lake’s problems with phosphorus would get worse. Concerns over traffic are rebutted by his traffic study, which shows traffic issues occur at the start of the school day and at the end, and that traffic moves in the opposite direction of his development, Eady said.
“I’m looking to fix this up, put some money in and some work and effort make Sudbury a better city,” he said.
City planning staff will now work with Eady to come up with a final application, and will have to decide whether to recommend the development be approved or rejected.
But Eady said he has spent years developing his proposal and is confident he’s met all the conditions necessary to proceed.
“I will take this to the OMB,” if it’s rejected, he said. “I am going to fight for this.”