By Katherine Grant
The Tim Hortons proposed for the corner of Alyssa Drive and Ontario Street in Beamsville moved a step closer to becoming a reality after Town of Lincoln’s Committee of Adjustment gave the green light to a minor variance to the plan Tuesday night.
The design for the coffee shop, complete with double drive-thru, has been significantly modified since being turned down at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing in January 2014 for being “too large” for the site.
But the modifications did little to appease the neighbours whose homes abut the site. There were only a few empty seats in council chambers and a number of those present voiced their objections about the coffee shop to the committee.
“I would probably not have bought if I had known it was going in there,” said retiree Rod Sinnott. “This was to be our last home and we wanted it to be as close to our dream home as our budget would allow. Is Mr. (Gabe) DeSantis going to refund the $10,000 I paid for a premium lot?”
The Town of Lincoln has already accepted the donation of a small strip of land fronting on Ontario street for a “gateway” sign. This creates an Alyssa Drive frontage for the property.
John Ariens, planning consultant for Homes by DeSantis, said the new plans address the four issues noted during the OMB hearing, “that it was too large, too close and too noisy and there wasn’t enough parking,” Ariens told the committee.
There is still a double drive-thru but the building has been reduced from 139 sq. m. to 67 sq. m. of floor space.
“We have significantly increased the amount of landscaping to soften and screen the site from neighbours,” said Ariens.
Neighbours expressed concerns about noise and traffic congestion.
Ariens noted a drive thru is an approved use of the site according to its commercial zoning designation.
“This is a permitted commercial use that meets all tests of the Planning Act,” said Ariens.
He also noted there is only one entrance/exit proposed out onto Alyssa Drive as that is all Region of Niagara would permit and that DeSantis has funded the installation of sidewalks on the north side of Alyssa Drive although not required by the town to do so.
only one entrance/exit proposed out onto Alyssa Drive as that is all Region of Niagara would permit and that DeSantis has funded the installation of sidewalks on the north side of Alyssa Drive although not required by the town to do so.
Claudio Balbinot, planning consultant with TerraResearch said he had been retained by the residents to address their issues.
Balbinot said a car will be exiting or entering the coffee shop every 10 seconds or about 200 cars in or out during peak times which coincides with school hours when children will be headed to Senator Gibson School on John Street.
Balbinot also noted that many municipalities have reviewed their planning policies in light of the impacts of proposals such as this one and that Town of Lincoln should consider doing the same.
He said the changes made in the proposal don’t go far enough in light of the close proximity to a residential neighbourhood.
“Best efforts don’t trump good planning practices,” said Balbinot.
Resident Alice van Overbeeke sent a letter to council voicing her objections to the proposal and also asked a question about truck traffic and its impact.
DeSantis noted that Tim Hortons will be able to regulate times for deliveries to lessen potential traffic issues.
Several neighbours expressed concerns about the height of the proposed fences – as high as 13 ft. in some areas – and suggested high fences in enclosed areas would encourage vandalism and present a place where garbage would pile up and “drug deals could be made” creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions adjacent to their homes.
DeSantis noted it was in everyone’s best interests that this area was safe and that the area could be blocked off to prevent access. He added he would hire security guards if need be. Fencing and other details to the design will be addressed in the site plan process.
“This has been three-and-a-half years in the making,” said DeSantis. “We have council support, hopefully it will be up before Christmas.”
The application to allow a minor variance to permit a front yard setback of 10 metres where six metres is required was approved by committee.
This is to accommodate a wide enough area for two-way traffic.
There is a 20-day appeal period for the committee of adjustment’s ruling.