WINCHESTER — A 447-unit seniors’ community in Winchester continues to be a ‘go’ — with the builder satisfied by North Dundas Township’s compromise decision on development charges to be applied.
The Nautical Lands Group — a contractor that develops communities of small seniors’ homes under the brand “Wellings” — will pay one-time development charges at the township’s one- or two-bedroom apartment rate ($2,479 and $3,254) instead of the townhouse charge ($3,719) the municipal planning department originally sought to apply on each structure at the Main Street West site. That position triggered Wellings to appeal to council Oct. 8 with a pitch to drop the charges as low as $1,844 per unit, based on what the firm paid on similar developments elsewhere in Ontario.
While the majority on council rejected that much of a cut, the diminutive size of the dwellings — averaging 840 square feet — and lack of basements led the local politicians to conclude the current development charges bylaw never contemplated a project like Wellings Winchester and that some reduction was in order. The current charge paid by North Dundas apartments is now the a new baseline for the project — and others like it in the future.
North Dundas Planning Director Calvin Pol and members of council happily reflected Nov. 12 on their progress with Wellings. As if to put the exclamation mark on that point, council also approved a pre-services agreement, a measure intended to get the developer “off to the races before winter really hits,” Pol said. “They’d like to do some land preparation work and put a model home on the property this year.”
“They now own the property as well; Wellings of Winchester Inc. is the owner of the property,” he added, noting the developer continues to work through final approvals with other agencies.
Once the project really gets underway, the small homes on site will be built inside a temporary fabric-covered structure, then moved to their locations within the gated community, which will also feature its own community centre.
Wellings first brought its proposal forward to council in April, after Deputy Mayor Al Armstrong spent years cajoling the president of the Nautical Lands Group, Kevin Pidgeon — a golfing buddy — to have a look at North Dundas for its next project. “He came here just to shut my mouth,” a smiling Armstrong said.
“This is a big step, one step away from a monumental step for North Dundas,” said the deputy mayor. “We are mere steps away from something that will impact us greatly, if not greater than any other project undertaken in North Dundas.”
Added Armstrong, “I’ve spoken to the president today, and he seems to be very happy, and it’s a big, big deal for North Dundas.”
Mayor Tony Fraser said he had recently enjoyed “such a positive meeting” with the developer and staff from the township and other agencies. “It was very, very heartening.”