Rick Fryer

Angstrom Cr. residents fed up with condition of roadway

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Residents of Angstrom Dr. have had it with the condition of their road and want the town to make it a priority.

The roadway has fallen into disrepair with residents along the street, which runs off of Pointe West Dr., stating they and other neighbours have suffered injuries due to the concrete road cracking and heaving.

A group of concerned neighbours met with the RTT last Wednesday evening and also attended Monday night’s town council meeting. At the latter, council members voiced sympathy to the residents’ plight and will conduct a further investigation into the matter but some were quick to point out other roads need tending to as well.

Zane Handysides represented residents at Monday night’s meeting, telling town council “the road is getting worse as time goes on.”

“It’s becoming a liability for homeowners,” he said. “We just want our road to be repaired. It’s simply disintegrating around us.”

Handysides said they are “looking for a long-term solution” and “we need to get that road on the replacement side, not the repair side. The road is, quite frankly, embarrassing and I believe, unsafe.”

Residents recalled stories to the RTT last week of meeting with prior mayors and council members but not getting anything but patchwork to the road in return.

“I called 13 years ago when I first moved in,” said Nicole Sekela. “I couldn’t believe the state of the road.”

Residents of Angstrom Cr. are looking for
replacement of their road. They note the cement road is cracking and heaving and repairs aren’t doing anything positive.

Roger Racette, another resident on the street, claimed that he has had to replace springs and the sway bar on his vehicle twice due to the state of the road.

Racette said he brought a chunk of concrete to town hall before while said Sekela she called the town daily at one point to seek action. Sekela added that while residents in the rural areas have noise concerns over rumble strips, the cracks along their road make noise too.

“It sounds like someone has a flat tire when they go by,” she said.

Todd Laliberte believes the fact the road is currently concrete works against him, though neighbours believe it would just have to be cut six inches from the curb and removed. The residents say they are simply looking for asphalt.

The residents want Angstrom Dr. moved up on the town’s list of priorities for repair. Patching the road doesn’t work, they state, with Handysides stating last week that it eventually comes up and ends up on their front lawns.

“We’re not looking for anything special,” he said. “Just a normal, paved, asphalt road.”

“We can’t drive straight,” added Sekela last Wednesday, noting they weave around heaving concrete and holes to get off their road.

The road has dropped on the roads needs study, with numbers ranging from 170 to 183, Monday night in terms of where it is placed.

Todd Hewitt, manager of engineering for the town, said some roads are divided into several sections so the same road could be on there multiple times. He said the study was done in 2016 by an independent consultant.

“I’m not disagreeing that the road is in disrepair,” he told council Monday night, but added there are “a number of roads ahead of Angstrom Cr. in the study.

Hewitt gave a rough estimate of $350,000-$400,000 to fix Angstrom Cr.

Residents have been erecting signage along Angstrom Cr. to urge the town to replace the street. (Submitted photo)

Councillor Rick Fryer, who has raised the state of the road before at town council meetings, said the road is “pathetic” and believes it has been forgotten about. He said he was “sick and tired” of hearing of people getting hurt on that road.

“I got hurt on a section of sidewalk that wasn’t repaired by the town,” he reminded his council colleagues.

Fryer added that the town has gone down the roads needs study before and planned to re-do roads that were not at the top of it, citing Creek Road, though public works said Creek Road was second and fifth in the study as it was divided into two sections.

Councillor Jason Lavigne noted there have been recent pleas to look at other roads at recent council meetings, as Concession 2 North and South Riverview Dr. have been discussed at previous meetings. Lavigne acknowledged he is a former Angstrom Cr. resident and said the road is in “horrible condition.” He added his belief that previous councils didn’t spend the money they should have on roads and now the town faces a cost of about $260 million to repair them.

“There’s a lot of road issues we’ve inherited,” he said.

Councillor Leo Meloche agreed there are other roads that need attention, stating he knows of another road where he said Canada Post won’t even go down it to deliver mail.

“This council is trying to allocate funds to do major repairs and stop band-aid solutions,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We definitely hear (the residents’) point and administration will bring back a report.”

 

 

Town places moratorium on future signage due to pending urban design guidelines

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of local realtors got their signage request approved, but no more bylaw exemptions will be considered until the town’s urban design guidelines come to council.

Brad Bondy and Amy Bailey from Remax Preferred Realty appeared before town council with regards to a signage request for 103 Sandwich St. S. where their business name will also appear with Amherstburg Flowers & Gifts. However, town council requested that he work within the urban design guidelines and later passed a moratorium on any future signs from anyone else until the design guidelines are finalized.

CAO John Miceli said he wanted the moratorium so that council would have all the information from the guidelines, something a consultant is currently crafting.

“I wanted to make sure we took it into consideration with everything,” he said of the signage request. “All I’m asking for is a moratorium not to make a decision until we have urban design guidelines.”

Miceli added the goal of the urban design guidelines is to give Amherstburg a “sense of place” and that signs should have the “look and feel of the community we are trying to create.”

Councillor Leo Meloche questioned whether the business community should be consulted about types of signage but Miceli said efforts were made with only 20 of 211 businesses coming out to meetings.

“To be quite honest, we’ve had poor representation from the business community,” he said.

Councillor Diane Pouget agreed with the moratorium, saying the town spent “a lot of money” for a consultant to create the guidelines. She added past signage have created potential legal issues.

“Council has been cautioned several times by legal regarding signage and how it is distracting to drivers,” she said.

However, Councillor Rick Fryer reminded council that Bondy and Bailey’s request came before council at the May 14 meeting and was deferred due to council wanting more information.

“If Mr. Bondy was here, it would have been dealt with two weeks ago,” said Fryer.

Councillor Joan Courtney agreed with Fryer in that the matter would have been dealt with May 14 if Bondy had been asked to attend the meeting. She believed it would be unfair to Bondy and Bailey to put a moratorium in place before dealing with their sign request “but it should end here.”

Courtney said future requests should be subject to the moratorium.

Bondy indicated they are willing to work with the town.

“We’re willing to do what you guys want us to do,” he told town council.

Bondy added the proposed sign is attractive.

“It’s nothing grotesque,” he said. “It’s neat, it’s clean, it’s simple.”

Pouget said the town is trying to eliminate sign pollution and that if exemptions keep getting granted, it “defeats the purpose” of trying to come up with urban design guidelines.

Miceli said a report on urban design guidelines could come before town council in July.

“It’s about creating a sense of place in Amherstburg,” he emphasized. “It’s not about preventing signs.”

The area covered by the moratorium stretches from Texas Road to Lowes Side Road and from Meloche Road to the water’s edge.

Town moving forward with fast-food development

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The process to bring a new drive-thru fast food location to Amherstburg was moved forward by town council, but it appears there are issues that have to be resolved with the restaurant’s potential neighbours.

A special meeting of council was held last Thursday evening with the bylaws moved forward and that meeting and subsequently passed Monday night allowed for the Official Plan and zoning bylaw to be amended to allow for the fast food restaurant – identified as a Wendy’s – but while a draft site plan was shown to council and included on the public agenda package, that process has yet to be finalized.

The site plan process will likely involve Sobeys, which sits on the same parcel of land, as concerns were raised by representatives of the grocery store.

Joe Mikhail, whose company owns the 4.58-acre site at 83 Sandwich St. S., said he was glad to be back in Amherstburg but questioned Sobeys’ concerns.

“We haven’t been in these chambers for quite some time,” Mikhail remarked at last Thursday’s meeting. “We used to call it the chamber of horrors. We’re happy to be back. We want to do a lot more. This is just the beginning.”

Larger projects could follow, Mikhail suggested, and told town council “I think you will be pleased with what I bring to Amherstburg.”

Sobeys is “guided by our lease with them,” said Mikhail and that he was surprised to learn of the grocery chain’s concerns.

Councillor Rick Fryer had concerns over traffic but also welcomed the development to town.

“Welcome back,” Fryer told Mikhail. “Our mayor, CAO, staff and council have been open-minded about moving the town forward.”

The design of Wendy’s, which was approved by the heritage committee, is something Fryer believed is consistent with other locations across the province.

“Wendy’s always seem to be heritage-looking buildings,” he said.

Fryer believed it was a “huge opportunity for Sobeys” as well. Rennie Rota, owner of the local Sobeys franchise, said he approves of development but did voice concerns.

“I, too, am excited about development in Amherstburg,” he said. “I’ve been one of the biggest cheerleaders for development in Amherstburg.”
Rota said that Sobeys didn’t see the draft site plan until last Tuesday, two days before the public meeting.

“We at Sobeys had no time to do our due diligence,” he said.

Concerns for Sobeys raised last Thursday involved entrance and exit access, potential for conflicts with “daily loading operations” and the parking space reduction. Rota said he was disappointed that Mikhail didn’t approach them sooner.

“I know Toronto is very disappointed as well,” he said.

The process to bring a Wendy’s fast food restaurant to Amherstburg cleared an initial hurdle as council approved the concept of allowing a drive-thru at the proposed 83 Sandwich St. S. site. The image, included on the town’s agenda package for last Thursday’s meeting, shows the proposed design.

Sobeys wants time to look at the proposed site plan and have input, Rota added.

Manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger said the meeting was simply to move the concept of having drive-thru restaurants at that location forward and that “the final site plan can be amended.”

“I’m very excited about your proposal,” said Councillor Diane Pouget, “but we have to keep our people safe and we want our existing businesses to prosper.”

In addition to wanting to have Rota’s concerns dealt with, Pouget had other concerns she wanted to have addressed. Pouget wondered what will happen when General Amherst High School moves, noting there will be a lot fewer people activating the stop light at the crosswalk in front of the school. She wondered what that would mean for traffic at the Sandwich St. S.-Fort St. intersection.

“That’s going to be a very, very busy intersection,” she said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin told town council that there are “a number of things to prepare for” when the school moves to its Centennial Park location in a few years.

“I think the school leaving is going to create a different traffic pattern in town,” he said.

Mikhail said he tried to call Sobeys head office 15 times but didn’t get a call returned.

“For them to come in and cry wolf that they didn’t see it, they are crying big wolf tears,” said Mikhail. “We followed the rules. We gave them notice. It was in the paper. We did everything (the town) said we have to do. We will work with Sobeys if they will pick up the phone and talk to us.”

“Mr. Mikhail knows me very well. He has my phone number,” responded Rota. “If he wasn’t getting a response from Toronto, he has my cell phone and knows I am in the store pretty much every day of the week.”

Fryer said there will be more opportunities to “hash this out” and that last Thursday’s meeting was “just a stepping stone” along the way.

“We’ll work out the logistics later on,” he said.

Councillor Leo Meloche said it was a great development but hoped the proponents of the new Wendy’s and Sobeys could work out their differences. Meloche said he was concerned about town council having to “play referee” in the process.

Another issue was raised Monday night by Sobeys, with Rota indicating that while Sobeys is not opposed to the drive-thru restaurant on the site, they are “very concerned” wit the site plan proposed. He told town council Monday night that Amherstburg has “exploded” with development and that the traffic study used in the process dated back to 2001.

Pouget said 17 years “is too long for a traffic study” and questioned whether costs, should a stop light at Fort St. and Sandwich St. S. be necessary, be paid for by surrounding developers and not the ratepayers.

Manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger said the traffic study took into account if the Sobeys were to expand by 9,000 square feet and that the proposed Wendy’s is 2,200 square feet. Jeff Belanger, a consultant for Mikhail Holdings, indicated the traffic study is for the site itself and should not be looked at in terms of years but the size of the development. He said the study looked at a usage larger than what is currently there.

CAO John Miceli stated that Rebecca and Jeff Belanger are not related. He also cautioned council about getting in the middle of issues between a landlord and a tenant and said the site plan issues are between Sobeys and Mikhail Holdings.

“In my opinion, we are going town a slippery slope if we get involved with landlord-tenant issues,” he said. “We’re putting things way ahead of the cart. They can’t finalize the site plan until we give them the zoning.”

Town to fill in rumble strips, look at alternative measures

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town is looking at alternative measures instead of having rumble strips on rural roads.

Town council voted Monday night to remove rumble strips from concessions and other rural roads they are on as a result of noise complaints filed by residents who live near them. The rumble strips will be filled in and replaced with increased signage, pavement markings, larger stop signs and additional flashing lights and beacons.

The Town of Amherstburg will also try and work with the County of Essex, where applicable, to resolve the issues.

The cost of $13,565 to carry out the work was deemed “very reasonable” to Councillor Diane Pouget.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Pouget, believing safety measures were still being taken while at the same time, the noise from the rumble strips would be eliminated for nearby residents.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he didn’t have an issue with filling in the rumble strips, but suggested other measures in addition to more signage. He said there are areas, including some streets in Windsor, where a granular surface was placed on the road and painted over when road lines are put on. He wondered if that would help get a driver’s attention while, at the same time, not be a nuisance for people who live nearby.

“From the beginning, I said they were too deep,” Fryer said of the rumble strips.

Rumble strips, such as the ones pictured on Concession 3 North, will be filled in when the asphalt plants open. Town council agreed to fill the rumble strips in after several noise complaints were made by residents who live near the rumble strips throughout Amherstburg.

Fryer was concerned over foggy weather and distracted driving, adding “I just feel there’s got to be something else” in addition to the recommendations but something that wouldn’t negatively impact residents. Pouget added that alternative countermeasures were “part and parcel” of the motion

Councillor Leo Meloche said he measured the depth of the rumble strips in some areas and said they were “not that deep.”

“It’s the design that makes them so loud,” said Meloche.

Meloche indicated the number of rumble strips make the noise worse, as there are four to five sections where rumble strips are cut.

“If one doesn’t (get a driver’s attention), five won’t,” he said.

Michelle Poberezny, who lives near Concession 8 North and Middle Side Road, equates the rumble strips to having someone ring the doorbell five times every time a car went by.

“It significantly impacted our quality of life,” she said.

Poberezny said they can hear the noise at night while in bed and when a school bus goes by, dishes rattle in the cupboards.

“It literally gets on your last nerve,” she said.

Residents want the intersections to be safe, Poberezny added, but added that cyclists also have to ride around rumble strips putting them at risk.

“I think this is a good resolution,” she believed.

Dino Gidillini, who lives near Concession 3 North and Middle Side Road, wanted more empathy from council members, adding there was little to no remorse. He believed more research should have been done before the rumble strips were cut.

“It’s going to cost taxpayers money to fix this,” he said. “They should have done their homework first.” A report on Monday’s agenda, public works reviewed Ontario Traffic Manuals, related legislation and guidelines as well as policies from other municipalities. An engineer’s report said use of rumble strips are not recommended within 200-500 metres of residential areas.

State of Concession 2 North draws ire of councillor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A member of town council is calling for action with regards to the condition of one of the town’s rural roads.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he has fielded numerous calls with regards to the state of Concession 2 North, stating there have been many temporary repairs done but not enough to ensure the road is in good shape.

“I don’t know how many repairs we’ve done to that road,” he said.

Councillor Rick Fryer has expressed concern with the condition of Concession 2 North.

Pointing out there is a roads needs study in Amherstburg, Fryer believed that Concession 2 North between Middle Side Road and the bridge over the Long Marsh Drain should be at the top of the list. He said “patchwork” repairs have been done and believed that residents who live and travel down that road should see major repairs and upgrades.

“Those residents deserve a new one,” he said of the road. “We need to aggressively fix that road.”

The bridge over Long Marsh Drain is scheduled for replacement this year. The bridge, located near River Canard, will be replaced at a cost of approximately $1.2 million and look like a modern bridge rather than the bow arch bridge that currently is situated there.