Deni Papetti lives close enough to the former Postal Station R at 2 Laird Dr. to see firsthand the difference height fluctuations between the neighbourhood’s two-storey and five-storey developments can make.
When North York Community Council refused an application to replace the former Post Office with a seven-storey residential building on Sept. 10, Papetti was one of the speakers.
“Our main objection has been the proposal’s scale, and how it’s going to transition into the neighbourhood,” he said later, in an interview.
He pointed, for comparison, to single-family homes along Malcolm Road, on the property’s north side, and the Krawchuk Lane townhouses along its south.
Community council’s motion, led by Ward 26 councillor John Parker, won’t have an immediate impact on the application. Developer Knightstone Capital Management filed a pre-emptive appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board on March 28, citing Toronto city council’s failure to make a timely decision.
A five-day hearing is set to begin on Feb. 17.
Parker called Knightstone’s proposal “a complicated situation,” pointing out that the mandate of the Official Plan is to provide a transition between neighbouring uses.
“That’s a tall order when the neighbouring uses are varied, as they are in this case,” he said.
While Krawchuk Lane and Malcolm Road are in a designated neighbourhood zone, 2 Laird Dr. itself is identified as mixed-use, which allows for eight-storey development. It also lies at the south end of a string of mixed-use buildings that run along Laird Drive.
Neighbourhood land allows for buildings up to five storeys tall, and there are several multi-storey condominiums nearby.
The site’s 23,000-square-foot lot also rises above its nearby land, leading Parker to refer to Knightstone’s seven-storey application as an eight-storey proposal.
The developer proposed a structure that would transition from a maximum height of seven storeys along Millwood Road to four storeys on Malcolm Road’s west side, ending with a single detached dwelling. Because city staff planners supported the proposal, Parker authorized external planners to represent the city at the OMB hearing during the Sept. 10 council meeting.
Knightstone declined to comment.
Since learning about the proposal in 2012, Papetti has collaborated with Parker, the Leaside Propety Owners’ Association and other local residents to form a working group, which has met with company representatives to revise the application since March.
Papetti says he has seen “very little change” in the proposal thus far, but calls it “a difficult process and consistent throughout the city of Toronto.”
Parker is more blunt, blaming certain members of the working group — he won’t specify who — for Knightstone’s pre-emptive appeal in the first place.
“Some voices claiming to represent the community came across as totally inflexible on the matter and insisted on townhouses,” he said.
“The developer told me there’s no way they’re going to come back with a townhouse proposal, and that they were confident they could do much better at the OMB.”
The OMB held a pre-hearing conference for 2 Laird Dr. on July 22, before city council could make a final decision regarding the application. Council will now consider Parker’s motion on Oct. 8, with the OMB scheduling a second pre-hearing on Nov. 22.
Parker said he remains confident he can change the current application, despite its favourable staff report.
“If we go in supporting the staff report, then I’m afraid that would be seen as the best the city could achieve from the appeal, and I’m hoping we can do better than that,” he said. “I will be fighting this application on eight storeys, and my hope is that we can beat it down to no more than five.”
Complicating things further is a line of mixed-use properties that extend north on Laird Drive, which have not been developed according to the provisions, including the eight-storey height limit, available under the city’s official plan, Parker said.
Papetti said he believes that whatever is built on 2 Laird Dr. could set a precedent for future mixed-use development along the street and needs to be carefully studied.
“The community is not anti-development,” he said. “Many of us are looking forward to an improvement to what currently occupies the site.”
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