Apartment project irks residents

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/07/30/apartment-project-irks-residents

Lionel Rowe knows people don’t like change.

What they like even less, he says, is being left in the dark.

The retired Nepean resident charges the city hasn’t been straight with residents about the re-zoning of a proposed development at 2940 Baseline Rd. and Sandcastle Dr., west of Greenbank Rd. — a project he says the city has known about for two years.

“Nobody knows what’s been addressed and nobody’s telling us,” said Rowe.

It wasn’t until July 22, he said, he received a letter from a city planner, dated July 5.

It outlines the project: Four apartment buildings with 588 units, and 706 parking spaces, housing around 1,500 people — all on less than three acres.

He’s lived in the area for eight years and says the intensification plans don’t suit the area.

Three communities are affected: Valley Stream, Qualicum/Graham Park, and Leslie Park.

The deadline for residents to respond to the planner is August 2.

Rowe’s backyard borders the property line of the development and he calls the timeline “a blatant attempt to stifle discussion.”

“This is inappropriate and not in the spirit of informed public decision making,” he said.

But he says he’s not at all opposed to the intensification itself.

“I think when you live behind a piece of vacant property, you know it’s going to be used at some point in time for some purpose,” said Rowe.

Rather, it’s a matter of principle and having an open conversation with the community — something he wants Coun. Rick Chiarelli to do by hosting a town hall meeting.

That’s in the works, Chiarelli told the Sun, adding he only recently found out about the project.

“I’ve known about the application for a few weeks,” he said.

“I didn’t get an assessment from staff until early July.”

And Rowe isn’t the only one with concerns about the apartments.

After speaking to about six or seven individuals, said Chiarelli, “most think it’s excessive.”

But at the same time, he said, educating the community about the process is key.

“It’s easy to just say no, but if you just say no, you will lose,” said Chiarelli.

“Something will get built there, so we need to form a consensus about what we actually think is appropriate.”

A small plaza housing a housewares store, medical clinic, convenience store, and dental office will remain intact, according to Chiarelli.

The timeline for the project is about five years.

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