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The people have spoken on the development proposed for the old Cooke Avenue School site.
The tiny gallery of city council chambers was packed to capacity and overflowed into the hallways and along the walls with Rosslanders carrying their concerns about the development.
Several people spoke and gave their opinions on the development and no one was in favour of it. Citing concerns of traffic, density, a blocking of view and safety issues due to more driveways backing onto a busy street, the neighbourhood residents were adamant the development was not a good fit for the area.
The purpose of the public hearing was to consider the applicant’s request that the city advance a rezone on two large lots located on the former school site to allow a change in zoning from P1—public institutional to CD 6—mixed residential.
However, council was not making a decision that night on the project, but was only gathering input for a later decision.
Previous to this negotiations on the Cooke Street project were put on hold by city council Aug. 12 until the public meeting was held.
Council had struck a request by developer Cezary Ksiazek for a decision on the zoning amendment from the agenda for the block once occupied by the former Cooke elementary school.
The rezone application and a report from the city's planning department were supposed to be on city council's agenda last month.
However, it was decided council needed “further clarification on some of the information items in the application,” and the public meeting was set.
Ksiazek has been trying to develop the former Cooke Avenue school site since it was purchased by a trio of local investors in early 2011, but he claims his attempts to bring an “affordable, low cost” development to the city have been slowed by red tape.
The current rezone application first came to light in September, 2011, but it wasn't until Dec. 10, 2012 that a public hearing was held on the project.
The public hearing was followed by a council committee of the whole meeting Jan. 21, 2013 to discuss the issues raised at the public hearing. Ksiazek again met with the city on Feb. 8 and no common ground was found on the contentious points.
On July 31 Ksiacek met with three city officials—without senior city planner Mike Maturo who was on holidays—on the property to review the proposal's contentious points as a prelude to the council meeting.
But it was Maturo who has raised the sticking point for the development as it does not address Official Community Plan policies for site development, neighbourhood impact, traffic flow and servicing, according to the city's planning department.
The development is slated for two large lots to allow mixed residential on what is public institutional, building 24 townhouse units in the form of six, four-unit homes facing Thompson Avenue and Cooke Avenue.
Each unit will include three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a single or double car garage. The total living space will be approximately 2,000 square feet and at $150 per square foot, including land cost, it is the lowest possible price, said Ksiacek.
Ksiazek has conducted a preliminary review of servicing requirements for the site—a full city block—and is proposing the multiple-family dwellings within the one-block span on the former Cooke Avenue school site now zoned public institutional.