Developer wants to make a deal with Township for Sunderland parkland

Members of Brock Township council are mulling over the possibility of turning over undeveloped parkland north of the Sunderland fairgrounds to a developer.

According to a report discussed at Monday’s (June 25) meeting of the planning committee, the Kaitlin Group has proposed trading five acres of land protected by the Greenbelt in exchange for 2.5 acres that could be developed.

The title of the report, penned by CAO/Clerk Thom Gettinby, refers to a potential financial contribution from the company for the arena expansion project being championed by the Sunderland Lions Club but primarily deals with the potential land swap.

According to the report, representatives from Kaitlin met with Township staff and Lions members on May 8, prompting the proposal.

“Kaitlin Corporation has proposed that the municipality consider selling a portion of the parkland dedicated north of the existing fairgrounds as part of the registration of Phase 1 representing approximately 2.5 acres. The sale price would be based on its full market value as determined by a certified appraiser. In return, the municipality would receive five acres of land located to the north of Phase 2 outside the designated urban boundary.”

Gettinby estimates that Kaitlin would be able to develop close to two dozen additional units, with all proceeds of the sale being used to support the arena project.

“The Kaitlin Corporation would receive development rights to approximately 2.5 acres of land within the urban area while transferring lands within the Greenbelt Protected Area. Obviously, this would be considered a substantial financial benefit to Kaitlin; based on the proposed density of the Phase 2 lands, this could equate to 23 units,” the report reads.

“The Township would receive compensation on the sale of parkland immediately upon the transfer based on the highest and best use of the land as determined by a certified appraiser. It should also be noted that this benefit could also be realized by a sale to a third party as there would be significant demand for developable parcels within the urban boundary. In addition, the municipality would receive a further five acres of land in close proximity to those homes proposed as part of Phase 2 of the development. It is recognized that the developer would likely charge a premium of those lots abutting the park. Further, it would be intended, through a tri-partite agreement with the Lions Club, that the funds would be devoted to the Sunderland arena project.”

The Township hopes to secure funding for the arena project, which is expected to run between $3.5- to $4-million, from the provincial and federal governments.

“It is anticipated that a funding intake will be announced during the fall of 2018. It is understood that the Federal government will contribute 40 per and the Province will contribute 33 per cent, leaving a 27 per cent share to the municipality. The Sunderland Lions Club have also committed a total of $500,000 toward the project,” the report reads.

It continues by noting that the municipal share of the project would be offset by the proceeds of the property sale.

“The sale of land to Kaitlin Corporation together with the Lions contribution could effectively finance the entire project without the need for additional taxation or the issuance of a debenture.”

Should council opt to proceed with the sale, an agreement would be developed taking the following factors into consideration:

  • The retention of a qualified appraiser to complete a valuation of the land at the expense of Kaitlin Corporation;
  • The preparation of a suitable Reference plan to identify the location of the 5.0 acre parcel to be acquired at the expense of Kaitlin Corporation, the location of which to be determined by the Township together with access through Phase 2;
  • Recognition that the Kaitlin Corporation will consider future contributions;
  • Acknowledgement that the 5.0 acre parcel does not constitute a formal parkland dedication under the Planning Act for either the Phase 3 lands (in the vicinity of Highway 12) nor any development potential should the urban boundary be expanded as a result of a municipal comprehensive review of the Region and Township Official Plans on the basis that the acquisition would form part of the land transaction at the present time thereby not violating those provisions of the Development Charges Act with respect to imposing a charge related to the development;
  • That the funds received by the municipality be placed into a reserve fund account which shall be used with the concurrence of the Sunderland Lions Club for the arena project or such other projects which may be determined for the benefit of the Sunderland community in the event the arena project does not proceed; and,
  • Such other matters as may be identified by the Township solicitor.

Prior to the sale, the property would need to be formally declared surplus by the municipality, a process that would require a public meeting.

“The timing of the request does become problematic given the upcoming municipal election. Based on those candidates who have filed nomination papers, it is almost certain that this Council will become ‘lame duck’ as of Nomination Day (July 27, 2018)…Despite a lame duck council, there is nothing to preclude the execution of an agreement with the Kaitlin Corporation to provide for an anticipated transfer of those lands at the appropriate time.”

The Kaitlin development has been controversial pretty much from the outset.

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.

As the first homes in the development were nearing completion in the fall of 2017, members of council voted 6-1 to approve a zoning amendment that would allow for 61 additional lots despite numerous concerns from residents.

In addition to the revisions that were approved, a consulting firm retained by Kaitlin submitted a letter to the Province requesting an additional 74.5 hectares owned by the company be included in the village’s urban boundary to allow even more homes to be built.

The letter was submitted as part of the Province’s review of planning legislation, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Greenbelt Plan, but were not among the revisions made.

Members of council passed a motion at Monday’s meeting to formally ask the Sunderland Lions Club for input on the proposal.

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