Process to move Boblo development moves ahead, questions still remain

 

DSC_0006By Ron Giofu

 

While town council moved development of the south end of Bob-Lo forward, it is clear many questions still remain.

Council received a report from planner Rebecca Belanger and authorized administration to work with developer Amico Properties, the County of Essex, provincial ministries and partner agencies to satisfy concerns related to the proposed plan of subdivision for the south end of the island. A two-hour public meeting was held prior to Monday night’s regular session of council where Belanger outlined the request for 209 lots on 79 acres, including 160 single detached homes and 49 semi-detached. She added the final design and implementation plan has yet to be determined.

Cindy Prince, vice president of Amico, admitted they are in “a little chicken and egg situation” as the MNR wants planning approvals before working with Amico on obtaining permits on how to proceed with the development. She outlined a proposal with walking trails along the shoreline and possible trails along the interior of the development. There would also be 32 per cent natural area and challenged the town to find another development with similar natural area.

“We’re actually building habitat and doing something better than the current habitat that is there today,” Prince told council.

There are “wildlife corridors” being created between lots, she continued, and said the amount of interior parkland amounts to 25 acres. A traffic study showed the possibility of a second ferry having to be used and perhaps a larger ferry down the road. She added the ferry speed can be increased, as can the frequency of travel to the mainland from every 20 minutes to possibly 10 or 15 minutes.

“Bob-Lo is a wonderful opportunity for the town of Amherstburg,” she further told council. “Take that opportunity.”

Prince said $1 million in tax revenue comes from Bob-Lo currently and predicted that could double or triple if the south end is developed.

“Bob-Lo in its current state is not sustainable,” she added. “The time to change that situation is now.”

If developed, there would be the potential for over 400 homes on the island, a number that is down from the 1,800 homes that had originally been projected for the island.

Mike Raymond and Jack Thompson outlined several concerns they had but said they are not opposed to developing further on the island in which they live.

“We are not opposed to the orderly development of the south end of Boblo,” said Raymond. “We want to ensure Bob-Lo maintains its character.”

Raymond indicated the residents enjoy the flora, fauna and marine life and wanted to ensure those qualities are maintain. He also was concerned over year-round police, fire and EMS. Parking was also a concern, using an example of one spot per unit in the Harborview Condominiums not being enough.

Thompson also had traffic concerns, wanting a second ferry to be running once a certain threshold of building permits is hit, suggesting a number of 50 or 100. Traffic flows were of concerns to him as well.

Councillor Bob Pillon said he wanted to see the development to go ahead and encouraged Prince and developer Dominic Amicone to “work it out” with residents.

John McDonald believed the broader community did not want to be seen as supporting the development of the project, using the forcemain that would run to the main sewage treatment plant on the mainland. He suggested getting full cost recovery up front should be a priority. Stephanie Thompson, a resident of the island, asked if the town could work with the province in getting the upper tier to help pay for the ferry service.

Local resident Jim Broderick asked if the decision could be deferred for 90 days to allow for various concerns to be addressed but Mayor Wayne Hurst said the town isn’t locked into anything at this stage and will continue to work with the developer. Michael Prue, an island homeowner, added he believed a decision would be “premature” and voiced concerns over natural environment on the island and the possibility that previous generations of island dwellers could be buried there.

“We’re giving our administration direction to go ahead and work with other agencies,” responded Pillon. “We are not approving anything tonight.”

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