A group of residents have once again banded together as the “Concerned Citizens of Sunderland” to fight against the Kaitlin subdivision.
Davies Howe, a legal firm specializing in land development advocacy and litigation, sent a letter to members of council on behalf of the group Friday (Nov. 3) formally requesting that the Township deny the company’s request to build 268 homes in the second phase of construction, an increase from the 207 initially approved.
“Our client has serious concerns with the proposed zoning by-law amendment and revisions to the draft plan of subdivision for Phase 2. These concerns relate to density, compatibility, traffic, adequacy of water and wastewater infrastructure and protection of the environment,” the letter reads.
It goes on to state that the planned expansion of the subdivision flies in the face of a settlement reached by the group and Kaitlin during a mediation session mandated by the Ontario Municipal Board nearly a decade ago.
“Further, the proposed revisions to Phase 2 of the draft plan are not in accordance with the agreement entered into by our client, the Township, the Region and the applicant pursuant to the settlement of our client’s appeals of the original zoning and draft plan approval for the subject lands,”
“The board’s decision and order in those appeals specifically relied on the minutes of settlement as the basis for approving the draft plan. The proposed revisions are not consistent with the terms and intent of those minutes.”
The Township’s planning committee approved the revisions requested by the company following a raucous public meeting on Oct. 16.
Close to 20 residents formally spoke against the proposal throughout the course of the meeting, with several urging local politicians to deny the application.
“High density housing does not belong in Sunderland,” said Ralph Maleus.
Almost all that spoke said the addition of even more homes to the project’s second phase would have a negative impact on the community overall.
“This is the most important meeting ever for our community…These are the people you represent. Not the Region. Not Kaitlin. Look directly into their eyes and consider your choices,” Denise Wilson cautioned members of council.
“I don’t understand what this does for our community,” added Sheryl Bunting.
“If we’re not benefiting, why is this even being considered?”
Jen Parsons said she was particularly concerned about the expanded subdivision causing potential enrolment challenges at Sunderland Public School.
“A community is more than houses…I support development but not at the expense of our kids or our town,” she said.
Throughout the evening, several residents touched on the history of the development and the attempts of residents to scale back the number of homes.
When first proposed back in 2004, it included roughly 300 homes – as well as a championship golf course featuring a year-round banquet facility and clubhouse – over more than 270 acres.
Due to the Province’s Greenbelt legislation, which essentially halted development outside of the established urban boundary, the proposal was altered to include 345 homes over 68 acres.
There were other substantial changes to the design prior a pair of public meetings in the summer of 2005 and January of the following year and it was revised yet again before township council granted approval in February 2007, followed by regional council.
Billing themselves as the Concerned Citizens of Sunderland, a group of residents filed an to the Ontario Municipal Board, citing concerns with the overall design of the subdivision and its integration into the existing community, use of green space, the environmental impact the development could have, as well as the limited water and sewer capacity.
An agreement between the group and the developer was reached in a mediation session in February 2008 that allowed the project to proceed.
“We have an OMB agreement we had to fight for…this is totally in contempt of that agreement,” Jay Yerema-Weafer said of the revisions.
Rob Weafer noted that there are dozens of residents, him included, who have more than a decade fighting various aspects of the development.
“It’s been a never-ending battle and I’m sick and goddamn tired of it. I want you all to know that,” he told members of council and township staff.
Peter Pushkarna, a new resident of Sunderland, said while he has enjoyed living in the community, he is disheartened by the Township’s and the developer’s approach to the process.
“No one here is opposed to growth but I think it has to be done in a methodical, well-thought out plan,” he said.
“If I had known that this was an issue, I would never have purchased a Kaitlin home.”