Councillor wins OMB appeal on property severance

3083 lakeshore rodThe Ontario Municipal Board has granted a severance for Burlington City Councillor Jack Dennison’s property at 3083 Lakeshore Road.

The severance was requested to build a second house on the property, on the East side. City staff did not support the severance, and it was turned down by the city’s Committee of Adjustment, prompting the OMB appeal.

The city submitted planning opinion evidence arguing the proposed consent would result in the smallest lot within the neighbourhood and would set a precedent for the creation of additional residential lots within the neighbourhood. The city stated the proposed severed lot will not be compatible with the existing physical character of the neighbourhood.

The property, known as the “Seaton House,” is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act – both the building and the land around it. The city argued that the proposed severance and new build would not conserve this cultural heritage resource. The designation bylaw mentions a “parterre” on the East side of the property, where the new building is slated to go. A parterre is a level space in a garden or yard occupied by an ornamental arrangement of flower beds.

In its ruling, the OMB found that while the proposed severed lot would become the smallest lot within the immediate area, it is compatible with the both the lotting pattern and existing physical character of the neighbourhood.

The Board also found that the proposed severance conserves the listed heritage attributes of the City’s cultural heritage by-law. There is no visible remnant of the Parterre Landscape, stated the Board. It found the offer by the Applicant to re-create this parterre within the front yard of the retained lot to be “much preferred over what once existed but can no longer be seen and appreciated.” The precise location of the new parterre will have to be determined through the site plan review process.

Read the OMB decision here: OMB decision 3083 Lakeshore PL130616

Read news article here: Burlington councillor wins OMB appeal against city to sever lot

My Take: I’m disappointed by the OMB decision, and believe it will set a new standard for lot widths in this area, encouraging others to sever and reduce the size of their properties. Over time, this could fundamentally alter the character of this street. I also believe that a new build on the severed lot so close to the existing home will negatively impact the heritage attributes of this designated property.  I did have a chance to discuss this matter with Councillor Dennison who showed me his own analysis of lot widths in the area, as well as distance between homes. I also saw a rendering of the proposed new home which aims to match the architectural of the neighbourhood – which is appreciated, as is the commitment to create a parterre in the front yard. I remain of the opinion that two homes on this once single lot will be cramped compared to what is immediately around it.

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.

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  1. Only 85 feet of frontage? That poor neighbourhood having to have such cramped quarters in their midst.

    • Chris, it’s only 54 feet frontage! It’s stated in metric and imperial in the decision.

      Where did you get 85 ft?

      Together, the existing and new are 2 of the 3 smallest lots in Roseland.

      You might not care, but at least get your facts right if you are going to be sarcastic.

      • My mistake…I read the Post article which incorrectly stated that 26.2m was the width of the severed lot. Still by all the hullaballoo you’d think that Jack were building 20 stories full of social housing, not a 2 story home on a still quite wide expanse of property.

        Had I read the decision I would also have known that my brother (whom I haven’t spoken with in several years) was the planning expert on the case. Small world!

  2. I agree with Marianne. The OMB should not be interfering in municipalities’ plans that meet the appropriate standards and have been approved by the province.

  3. This is an exemplary reason why we need the OMB either gone, or seriously reined in.

    This decision means that ONE person, from outside, knows better what fits that location, in Burlington, than all the processes, competencies, Councilors, and citizens, that live here and made their decisions known at elaborate length and breadth.

    Councilor Meed Ward’s take on this, and its implications and precedent, is well taken, and I agree.

    What more needs to be said about reasons why the OMB needs a thorough review and reform?

  4. I too am disappointed by the OMB decision. These people (OMB Reps) are not elected by the tax payers. They do not represent me.

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