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ADI development not approved, despite sign

IMG_0701I have received many queries to my office about whether or not the ADI proposal for a 28-storey building at Martha & Lakeshore in downtown Burlington has been approved, following the appearance of a large billboard on the site announcing a residential project “Arriving Soon.”

Emphatically and unequivocally, nothing has been approved on this property.

By way of background, the city received one development application for this property, from ADI, for an Official Plan Amendment and rezoning to permit a 28-storey residential building. The current OP and Zoning contemplate a 4-storey building here, with ability to go to 8 storeys under certain circumstances.

City planning staff rejected the proposal on the grounds that it represented overbuilding of the site and poor planning.

ADI 374 Martha

City council supported the staff opinion and unanimously voted to endorse the staff recommendation to refuse the application. The community is overwhelming opposed to the proposal.

ADI has appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board for a decision. A hearing is expected to take place in March 2016.

For more background read:

First OMB pre-hearing conference held for ADI development, 374 Martha St.

Councillors endorse staff refusal of 28-storey on Martha; ADI appeals to OMB

I will continue to keep residents notified here and in my monthly newsletter as this proposal proceeds through the OMB.

So what about that sign? Unfortunately, the city has no legal grounds to govern the content of signs. These types of signs that appear before an application is approved have occurred before on other development sites in the city, and we cannot stop them.

We do, however, govern the size and installation of signs. At my request, by law enforcement looked into this sign and have confirmed the sign is too large. However, ADI is arguing that the sign is hoarding to secure the vacant lot. Our bylaw is apparently silent on messages appearing on hoarding. So for now the sign remains.

This seems to me to be a significant gap in our sign regulations. There is hoarding at the corner of Brant and Blairholm, currently painted black; the owner has been asking to place a billboard here for years. How long do you think it will be before we see a sign replacing the black paint on this hoarding, or elsewhere in the city? We don’t want a billboard-as-hoarding free-for-all.

I have asked for a meeting with our bylaw staff to discuss how we might revise our bylaws to address the issue of oversize signs masquerading as hoarding. Stay tuned.

My Take:

Any sign or advertisement suggesting the imminent arrival of a development project that has not been approved is misleading and confusing. These signs create concern around whether a deal has been struck behind closed doors without the public’s knowledge in the dog days of summer. Emphatically, no. Such signs also require an exasperating expenditure of time and resources to correct the facts.

IMG_0699I’m also not persuaded the sign is “hoarding.” The sign is only in one corner of the lot – the part facing traffic; the other sides are open, with wide gaps between boards and caution tape. Most hoarding runs the perimeter of a property. This construction effort is not securing the site. I’m concerned about public safety and the security and installation of this massive billboard. I will be doing some further investigating with staff.

I will be sending correspondence to the developer asking that they show more respect for the community, remove the existing sign, and state in any future communication that this project is proposed only and subject to an OMB decision next year.

I will also ask that they not to use hoarding as an opportunity for an oversize billboard, but erect a sign more in keeping with our sign bylaw.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. “Ordinary Citizens” don’t live downtown Burlington! There was a song written once, “share the land”. It is so upsetting; you uppity “ordinary citizens” are just holding back the real reason you don’t want this building to go up; God forbid any other persons can enjoy living downtown Burlington. What exactly is the “downtown image” of Burlington anyways? Right now it looks to be like a bunch of white hairs who are not contributing to the future growth of this city; you just sit back complain about change and younger generations who are different. No offense, but half of Burlington decision makers and opinion makers won’t be around in the next 10 years to see what happens. Let this city thrive, these developments are fantastic for future families.

  2. I have seen much advertising for this project. Their “sales office” advertisement on Brant St., their billboard, and even a postcard in my mailbox! And because I looked into it on the internet, it now shows up every time I open Facebook. I had no idea the building had not received approval, though I’m very glad to read that it hasn’t! It doesn’t fit into our downtown image one bit. Please continue your efforts to stop them from building, and advise what “ordinary citizens” in this ward can do to help. Previous comments indicate that the OMB isn’t likely to respect the decision of our elected officials. Is this a provincial matter, rather than a city or regional issue?

  3. Hi Marianne,

    I think that the confidence ADI are showing in the approval of their development simply highlights the degree to which we can expect the OMB to ignore us (City and residents) and side with the developer. It’s seems to be a very high degree, as has happened in other municipalities in Ontario.

    Does anybody think that ADI would do all of this (sign and sales office) if they didn’t know something that WE did not?

    I wrote to my provincial member, asking for her thoughts about the legitimacy of the OMB. The response was standard government baffle gab citing the need for oversight, and to correct perceived problems, etc. Nobody wants to deal with the fact that the OMB quashes the wishes of the citizens and their councils, and planning departments.

  4. We are dismayed by such flagrant disrespect for the Burlington city council’s decisions and our community in general. We hope ADI’s appeal with the OMB will leave them with what they richly deserve … nothing!

  5. Boy this speculator is going all out to make itself unpopular in Burlington, I wonder what comes next, and I’m sure there will be a next. Perhaps we should have a competition to guess what ADI stands for. I go first with “A Damned Imposition”. Any others?

  6. Many thanks for the clarification, Marianne. What can I add to the previous eloquent and angry comments? All I ask is that the city fights this proposal at OMB with all the resources it can muster.

  7. This evening (Sept 14) , a crew of workmen put up additional signage flanking both sides of the original 2 storey billboard. This additional advertisement runs from the corner of Lakeshore & Martha in 2 directions. One arm runs westwards to the driveway and the other arm runs north to the first house. What an arrogant power play by a builder who has no respect for the residents of this community or for Burlington City Council.

    In addition to this, ADI will surely inflate any interest shown by people who register/walk through their sales office on Brant Street as justification for this project in the OMB hearing. This is as bald faced as it gets.

    I also agree with Cheryl Mahon – the OMB has to go.

  8. I recommend condemning the sign as a structure since it is two stories high and might qualify as one. There must be some bylaw that can apply to this. I do not approve any development, at all, by this company. I also do not want to offer them any of my tax dollars (any sort of subsidy whatever) to build here. They are bad neighbors and have contempt for the city.

  9. Thank you Marianne for your continued vigilance on this project.
    The arrogance of this developer is really quite staggering! First a blatant disregard for our official plan and the wishes of an elected council and now this!

  10. If you think that a simple billboard can cause confusion, wait till the ADI Nautique Waterfront Residences presentation centre (currently under construction at the corner of Brant & Pine, including a model suite, all for a reported $800k cost) opens.

  11. So sorry to hear about your car accident. Re the OMB, we need to get rid of it. Too many times the wishes of the community have been disregarded and the OMB have given the go ahead to builders. They know this and take advantage of it. The community should have the final say, after all we are the people living here and paying the taxes.
    Cheryl Mahon

  12. I believe this is the parking lot on the north west corner of Martha and Lakeshore. If so it has been used as over flow parking by Medica One Doctors office and adjacent dentist office to the west.

    This would be the reason for the so called “hoarding”. To keep people from parking on the property. From the picture it appears to be far from safe … And a little yellow caution tape just doesn’t cut it when it comes to liability.

    If Ithey want to keep people off their property erect proper fencing or at least safe temporary fencing. I am sure there is a by – law regarding fencing for safety.

  13. ADI has never shown any respect to the community, through word or action. We need to continue to do everything to keep them from building a 28 storey monstrosity on this site.

  14. Absolutely agree with your letter to developer. Fed up with these companies riding rough shod over the wishes (as expressed by an elected council) of the community. Someone should also look into OMB as well who always seem to side with the developer. Big business has NO respect for ordinary people.

    Thank you

  15. Thanks very much for your update on the ADI proposal, also really glad to hear you are close to a full recovery. Do you have any update on the Saxony Development at Elgin and Locust?. There was some activity after the restaurant closed but has been quiet for some time now. Thanks
    Dave Gore

    • David, The Elgin/Locust folks are just finishing arranging for what to do with the old Wiggsville building; they have been trying to find a lot to move it to, in order to save it, and this seems to be moving forward. I expect we’ll see more activity in the fall, but when there’s news I’ll update residents here.

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