Mayor Sam Katz and his executive committee this morning dismissed recommendations from the planning department and gave the go-ahead for a massive new residential subdivision in the city’s northwest corner.
During a three-hour-plus hearing, the senior committee listened to the recommendations and arguments from its planning staff and counter-positions from Terracon Developments, which is planning to build a 593-unit subdivision on a 74-acre site at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and King Edward Street, to be known as Castlebury Meadows.
While city planners and Terracon agreed on most issues surrounding the subdivision, Terracon was concerned that the planner’s recommendations for the outstanding concerns would halt the project.
"I think the committee heard our side of the argument," Michael Falk, Terracon’s development manager, said following the committee meeting. "Certainly public works and the city administration had some valid points and we reached a balance."
The sticking points in the project were the recommendations that: Terracon be solely responsible for upgrades to existing roadways; credit for non-usable green space as park land; the construction of a noise attenuation barrier along the path of a proposed Chief Peguis Trail extension; and widening a roadway through the heart of the project to accommodate transit vehicles.
Falk said the conditions required by city planners would be cost prohibitive, forcing Terracon to increase the price of homes from $300,000 to over $600,000, making the project economically unfeasible.
Following a break, the committee unanimously approved the project with a series of amendments put forward by Coun. Russ Wyatt.
Falk said he expected construction would start by March.
The subdivision would include 226 single family homes, 168 duplex units, and 199 apartment units.
Falk said that city staff knew nothing about the requirements for properly building a noise attenuation barrier and said building it now, before the expressway was constructed, would be a complete waste of money.
"We know the right way to do it," Falk said.
Falk was also critical of planning’s requirement that Terracon build at least one road through its project wide enough to accommodate Transit buses.
"I don’t want to put (a bus route) through the middle of the development," Falk said.
On the cost of the road upgrades, Falk said his company should only be required to pay 50 per cent of any needed upgrades for roadways fronting on its property.
City staff said it’s estimated that project would result in the number of vehicles using existing roads would increase from 1,000 to over 7,000 daily, adding that since Terracon was responsible for that increase, the company should cover the entire costs.
The Terracon project was also criticized by another development firm, which said Terracon’s population figures were too low and its proposed playing field for the site inadequate.
David Palubeski, whose firm Lombard North built the nearby Waterford Green subdivision, said Terracon was projecting a subdivision population of about 1,200-1,400 residents but in its experience the more realistic figure would be more than 2,000 residents.
Palubeski said the playing field Terracon was proposing was too small for the number of people who would be living in Castlebury Meadows, adding those residents would then rely on adjacent sport fields.
City parks officials said they conceded Terracon’s playing field was too small, but added that Terracon claimed it couldn’t build a larger field based on the configuration of its subdivision.