Developer planning return

Rendering of similar 40-unit building by Geoff Hodgins Architect. 

MORRISBURG – After a public zoning meeting August 17th it looked like a developer’s proposal to build a 40 unit apartment building between County Road 2 and Industrial Drive in Morrisburg was dead. However, the developer is looking for a way to resurrect something for that piece of property.

Stefano Ferrante, the project developer, recently reached out to The Leader regarding the project.

Council voted against rezoning the property from commercial to residential and that rezoning is necessary for the affordable housing project to proceed.

Council defeated the necessary amendment, as explained by South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds at the August 17th meeting, “Not to discourage anyone wanting to build in South Dundas, but I don’t think it’s the right place.”

Ferrante was surprised by council’s decision on the matter because about a year and a half ago he had pre-consultation meetings with municipal staff that led him to believe this project was something that the municipality wanted to see move forward.

“They couldn’t have been happier to see me, as a matter of fact I left with a laundry list of items they gave me,” said Ferrante.

“I’ve done all the studies and reports to the tune of $50,000. I had no inclination that they wouldn’t support this. It was to my surprise that council voted against it.”

“No one ever gave me any inclination that this wasn’t a good idea,” he added.

Ferrante said that the pre-consulation meeting was led by former planning official Donald Lewis and recalled that someone from the transportation department was there. The economic development officer was not part of this meeting.

Ferrante argues that South Dundas has no shortage of industrial land and that highway commercial land is often rezoned to residential.

In his mind the location of the land beside the McIntosh Inn is: “The perfect place for a new building.”

He is adamant that this property is the right property.

Although he has the right to appeal council’s decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, he instead wants to come back to council with a scaled back development.

This initial proposal included larger apartments that he said in these post-COVID times is not what people can afford.

He said that in his scaled-back proposal the apartments would be smaller and more suited for a single person. Rent would be $895/month, all inclusive.

In his new proposal he will reduce the size of the building and its occupancy from 100 people to 45 people.

Although he has a noise study that does not impede his plans, he said that he could add a clause in the lease agreements addressing the issue.

Net-zero construction, rooftop solar panels and a low carbon footprint will all be part of the new proposal, according to Ferrante.

“I’m going to come back to council with a new proposal and I’m looking for a different result,” said Ferrante. “The community needs affordable housing units.”

“This just sends a bad message for the future of Morrisburg,” said Ferrante. “Decisions like this will make developers reluctant.”

He is confident that if he were to gauge public interest, there would be an overwhelming amount of support for this proposal.

The public meeting concerning Ferrante’s initial proposal was attended by less than a dozen members of the public.

The majority of council voted against the zoning change.

South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells did not participate in discussions or vote on Ferrante’s proposal, having declared conflict of interest because he owns the property on which the development is planned.

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