City council has re-drawn a line in the sand about high-density development outside Barrie’s intensification areas.

It gave final approval Monday to reduce a large residential plan by 72 units, and lower its tallest building by one storey.

Hedbern Development wanted 233 Ardagh Rd. redesignated and rezoned so it could build 268 residential units on 8.7 acres there – in a five-storey apartment building, three four-storey apartment buildings and 36 stacked townhouses. The city would receive nearly half an acre of land for a park.

But the majority of councillors voted to cut the units to 188, reduce the apartment building to four storeys and change the high density residential zoning request to medium density residential zoning.

Darren Vella of Innovative Planning Solutions, speaking for Hedbern, noted there are other large residential developments in this area.

“We’re not trying to break new ground,” he said. “There are other dense projects in the Ardagh area.

“You are still approving a high-density development.”

Vella asked that council approve Hedbern’s latest plan.

Coun. Michael Prowse, who represents this area, proposed the reduction and argued for it Monday.

“Does the developer have a right to raise the density?” he asked.

“If the argument is ‘council, you have approved higher densities’, but I think this is an issue of built form,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman.

“I don’t think this plan offends any of the policies in your Official Plan,” Vella said.

Only Coun. Barry Ward voted against the reductions Monday, having argued they could be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board and the city’s chances of winning don’t look good – because Hedbern’s plans have the approval of Barrie planning staff.

Hedbern officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday on whether council’s reduction of the application would be appealed to the OMB.

The development would be on Ardagh Road, an arterial roadway. Public transit and municipal services are available, separation distances between existing residential and proposed development is substantial, in staff’s opinion. The five-storey building proposed was at the lowest elevation of the property, so it would have looked smaller than five storeys.

The city has received a petition with 150 signatures of people opposing Hedbern’s latest development. It cites traffic, environmental and drainage concerns, along with environmental ones.

At a March 31 neighbourhood meeting, area residents expressed concerns about the loss of privacy from a tall building, the proposed density increase for the neighbourhood, stormwater and how this development could affect their property values.

This property, 233 Ardagh Rd., is designated future urban in Barrie’s OP, low density residential and environmental protection within the Ardagh Secondary Plan and zoned agricultural. It’s located on the south side of Ardagh Road, west of Ferndale Drive South.

Barrie’s intensification policy establishes four principle areas where intensification is encouraged, including: the Urban Growth Centre, or downtown Barrie and Allandale; primary and secondary corridors consisting of arterial roads such as Bayfield and Dunlop streets, Essa Road, Duckworth and Yonge streets; primary and secondary nodes at significant intersections along the primary and secondary corridors; and South Barrie GO Station near Yonge Street and Mapleview Drive East.

A series of guidelines have also been created to help direct new development within these intensification areas, and are viewed to be complementary to the existing city urban design guidelines.

They are to create attractive and safe pedestrian areas, support transportation of all types and result in attractive designs.

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