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Tiffin Homeowners Call To Action Surrounding Planning Issues

Tiffin Homeowners Call To Action Surrounding Planning Issues

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In a followup to the story we ran asking for details about why the Tiffin Homeowners Association is upset about the forthcoming bylaw and planning changes surrounding secondary suites, we received the following communique and have published it in its entirety.  It now seems clear that the contentious issue is around a decision that blurs the lines around the definition of a second suite – which from our research published previously is not synonymous with a duplex.

So the question we have for our planning department and Council is quite simply:  is Midland equating a secondary suite with a duplex for planning and development purposes?  If so, where is the precedent?  The definitions we found online from relevant Canadian sources does not make mention of “duplex” and it does not see to fit in the spirit of a secondary suite.

Perhaps the 3 yr rule may be overly harsh since it could easily be argued that roughing in or finishing a “secondary suite” within the definitions we have found online when a home is initially constructed could make economic sense, as opposed to renovating after a few years.  Furthermore, perhaps the homeowner needs the income from day one…  However, clearly a duplex, from design to build is a different type of building and dwelling than an add-on suite or basement apartment.

As usual, the devil is always in the details.  We look for some clarity from our planning department and Council about this issue and evidently, so do the homeowners in Tiffin.

 

Letter To The Editor

OUR CHALLENGE CONTINUES

Town Planning seems determined to sabotage Midland Council’s February 22 decision that requires dwellings to be 3 years old before a second unit can be created. Unless Council’s decision is maintained, developers will be permitted to construct commercial rental duplexes, like those on south Aberdeen, on any lot zoned for single detached houses. We need you to again show your support for Council’s decision. Within Tiffin and Captain’s Cove, there are some 40 unsold lots. These areas are at risk of having the rest of the street filled with identical commercial duplexes side by side, similar to what has already occurred at south Aberdeen. Midland has at least 5 other partially completed subdivisions at similar risk. When homeowners purchased in these subdivisions, they were zoned only for single detached houses. Purchasers had no reason to expect they would be blindsided by zoning bylaws changed after the fact. THA supports healthy, mixed communities where second units get created as neighbourhoods evolve. There are some 7,500 existing single detached houses in Midland, including more than 200 in Tiffin and Captain’s Cove alone. We support Council’s decision to allow second units in any of them. But we categorically oppose the total lack of planning that would allow opportunistic developers to build new duplexes anywhere they wish just by calling them houses with second units.

THREAT TO COUNCIL DECISION

When it adopted the ‘three year rule’, Council rejected a Planning recommendation to allow new commercial duplexes any place a detached house can be built. Planning has advised THA that it no longer requires our participation as directed by Council. Planning has also proceeded to obtain legal advice (without any direction from Town Council to do that) which Planning claims requires two bylaws, one of which can be appealed by a duplex developer who does not like the ‘three year rule’. When asked to share this legal advice with THA, Planning refused our request. And, almost unbelievably, Planning has apparently also refused to share this advice with councillors before a Council meeting on March 29th. George Dixon, one of our members and a retired municipal lawyer has written to Council showing how passing two by-laws not only undermines THA’s position and Council’s own decision but also helps those who oppose the ‘three year rule’. It is very puzzling that Planning seems determined to thwart Council’s decisions.

THA NEEDS YOUR HELP AGAIN!

Public meetings are currently scheduled for 7:00 pm on April 6 at Town Hall to hear from members of the public who either support or oppose Council’s decisions about second units. We expect Jennark, the south Aberdeen duplex builder, to attend and voice opposition to Council’s proposed three-year restriction. Your THA executive will attend to support Council’s proposals. Every other member of the public who would like to express views on this subject has a right to attend the meeting and address Council or make written submissions.

This is obviously a big night where a large turnout and participation by THA members will help reinforce Council’s decision. We ask you to attend the upcoming Public Meeting on Second Units on Wednesday, April 6th, at 7:00 pm, in Council Chambers. We also ask you to email the Town Clerk – Andrea Fay [email protected] indicating that you support Council’s proposed zoning bylaw that will require dwellings to be 3 years old before a second unit can be created. When writing indicate your message concerns the “PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE TOWN OF MIDLAND’S ZONING BY-LAW RESPECTING SECOND UNITS”.

THA Executive

 

Editor’s Note

As our group has learned from our objections to the rezoning of Edgehill Park to become a commercial development, the “Purchasers had no reason to expect they would be blindsided by zoning bylaws changed after the fact.” argument has no impact on planning decisions by the Town or Council.  It now seems painfully clear that you cannot bank on your zoning or official plan provisions remaining unchanged after you invest in property in Midland.  Council has the prerogative to change zoning as it sees fit and the only recourse are OMB challenges which can range from $25,000-$75,000 – financial barriers that crush opposition from all but the most wealthy opponents.

You can read our article about secondary suites here.

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Comment(20)

  1. So the Tiffin homeowners bought homes not knowing the zoning would change. Those who own homes around Edgehill were not aware zoning would change for them either. Just saying!

  2. Well said, Lisa. I do not support the changes to the secondary suite guidelines. If someone wants to sever their house to create an income I support them and I don’t feel we should be putting up red tape to prevent them whether they are in a high or low income neighborhood.

  3. A duplex has 2 different house numbers. This is an apartment built into an existing home. The developer for the 10 homes on Taylor drive was a bit crafty in that they got the 10 single family home building permits and then applied for the secondary suites within them prebuild. This gave them the opportunity to add 2 gas meters, 2 electrical meters and build it as if it were 2 apartments without ever really having built a single family home. I have met with the THA on this and I stand by my position.
    I was away in training when General Committee voted on this last time, they voted to not allow secondary suites in residences until they were 3 years old. I see this as red tape for developers and I will not be supporting it at the next council meeting.

  4. So what’s the issue… will the new bylaw include “duplexes” or exclude them… seems that they have no business being in that bylaw other than to exclude them after you include a definition on what makes a “duplex” and why it is out of scope for the “secondary suites” bylaw and policy.

    Also, the 3yr waiting period is prejudicial (far more than just red tape) to those who build a home with the intent of making money from a tenant immediately – or – who find themselves needing the unit for their family member or themselves earlier than that. It seems that clear definitions are in order to protect both the town and builders from the legal issues that often follow ambiguity.

  5. The new bylaw doesnt have to include duplexes as they are a separate housing type all together. I have yet to see the bylaw, I am supposed to receive my agenda today, I may have and just have yet to read it.
    Secondary suites are encouraged by the province and funding has just been increased by the county to encourage more of them. I will not support any restrictions on secondary suites.

  6. Ok, just trying to understand why the THA is upset, other than the fact that zoning around them offers no guarantees of stability (we understand that only too well) – what else did you learn from them and how can you make them happy? How can you stop other developers (or this same one) from sneaking any more “duplexes” by council and planning unless the zoning allows for duplexes…

  7. (Personal opinion) I don’t plan on restricting developers from doing this same process in other areas. If it makes it easier for developers to build and creates affordable housing in the process I am all for it. I gave the THA’s 3 reasons why they oppose secondary suites to Bill Gordon, he can provide you with the information from that conversation if you’d like it. Basically it comes down to pride of ownership, cookie cutter homes and lack of sense of community. I don’t agree with 1 and 3 but I can see their concerns in regards to number 2. Frankly, there is not much we can do to change that, the 3 year solution seemed to be a compromise between staff, council and the THA. GC voted for it, Im hoping to turn the tide at Council this week.

  8. Hey Cody Oschefski In reading this thread I’m not sure if you are for or against the 3yr clause that could unintentionally cause hardships meant to be overcome by secondary suites in the first place. Why make people wait? If I built a house in anticipation of that extra rent to pay the mortgage why should I have to wait 3 yrs before I could rent it out? Or what if an elderly parent needs to move in earlier than anticipated? Is anywhere else doing this? Is this simply to appease the group? That seems punitive to everyone else.

    1. Do you know why Toronto has the 5 year delay? One would think Ontario’s largest city would be especially supportive of affordable housing yet they have a 5 year wait period.

  9. all the other area’s in town are either zoned or not zoned for residential duplex’s, hence the reason so many go “illegal”, but are perfectly fine.

  10. So Cody, what do you really think about developers using “crafty” practises to get building permits approved ? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 10 times isn’t that more than just a “crafty” developer tricking public servants ?

  11. Whether you call these units duplexes or secondary suites is pure semantics. At the rents being charged for these units, they hardly qualify as “affordable housing”. I think the issue that Midland residents should have with this bylaw is that the town allowed a commercial developer to circumvent the rules for aquiring their building permits. I don’t think anyone is against affordable housing. I don’t think anyone is against multi-family dwellings. I think people just want some say in the development of their neighborhoods and what is permitted to be built in them. Whether it is a medical centre built on town parkland or cookie-cutter “for profit” units built on the sly, residents should expect their town to listen to the tax payers and have developers follow the intent of neighborhood bylaws.

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Tiffin Homeowners Call To Action Surrounding Planning Issues

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