Proposed townhouse near Western brings dilemma for city council

London city councillors are set to tackle an age-old dilemma that pits residents’ wishes against a desirable new infill development.

A pair of townhouses planned near Western University, which some believed are designed to draw students, are at issue this time.

Residents in the Orkney-Angus neighbourhood north of Windermere Road and east of Richmond Street believe the development is too big and too close.

Tony Mara, president of the Orkney-Angus Ratepayers Association, says “The city is about to allow a major development right in next to our backyard that is going to consume all of the space…with the front entrances for multiple townhouse buildings and that they are in no way working to protect or preserve the separation or privacy.”

The back-to-back townhouse buildings would be on a site that fronts onto Windermere, and currently includes two single detached homes.

City planner Michael Tomazincic concedes it's a balancing act, “We recommended a less number of units than what the applicant had proposed and also limitations on the height and increased setbacks from the property line that had been proposed by the applicant.

“We tried to reach a compromise with supporting good development on the site while also mitigating the concerns we've heard from the public.”

While the proposal calls for 16 units with three to four bedrooms each, staff are suggesting 12 units, but allowing up to five bedrooms in each.

Mara believes it's simply a way to bring students in. He says they already have properties where it’s obviously student housing with absentee landlords.

Though the area is on a few minutes’ walk from campus, the restrictions on student housing don’t apply, because it’s not designated as a ‘near campus neighbourhood.’

Which means, Tomazincic says, “Ontario legislation prohibits us from distinguishing between student and non-student housing.”

The issue goes before council's planning committee on Jan. 7.