Developer Stephen Kaiser seeks to build across from Circle-K on Welland Road
A recent Voice story detailed Fonthill resident pushback against a proposed condominium development at 1145 Pelham Street. Now another group of homeowners a few blocks to the south, at the intersection of Pelham and Welland Road, is organizing an effort to fight the construction of a similar structure in their own backyard, fearing loss of privacy, additional traffic congestion, and disruption of their residential tranquility.
Brad Whitelaw, who lives on Hunters Court abutting the proposed development and is one of the residents leading the charge against the project, told the Voice that he attended a presentation by the developers, Niagara Innovative Living Inc. and Kaiser Homes, on October 26 at the Concordia Lutheran Church, which wants to see its property developed. Upper Canada Consultants is the engineering firm hired by the developers, and also had representatives at the information session.
“Poster boards on display at the presentation depicted a six-storey, 48-unit condominium complex,” said Whitelaw, “with one level of underground parking plus outside visitor parking, on a section of the current church property. They anticipated these units will sell for upwards of $900,000 each, none of which would be considered affordable housing, which is what the province is mandating for new housing developments.”
Whitelaw said he caught wind of the proposal this past summer. “My fence was kind of leaning over onto the church property, and was told ‘Oh, you don’t have to worry about fixing the fence, because we’ve sold that chunk of the property.’ The pastor said that the church needed the money, due to revenue losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Whitelaw recently assembled a dozen local residents in the Concordia parking lot to brainstorm the situation.
“This is an established, low-density residential area,” he said. “People have been living here in peace and quiet for 30 years. This project would take a couple years to build, which means that we would have to live with the noise, dust, and construction vehicles. It’s unreasonable.”
They anticipated these units will sell for upwards of $900,000 each, none of which would be considered affordable housing
He said that the group is planning to send a delegation to Pelham Town Council to make its concerns known, adding that, “If this type of proposal is approved by Pelham Council, it will set a dangerous precedent for future developments in other neighbourhoods of Pelham.”
The residents’ list of objections includes that the building design does not fit in with the existing properties, safety concerns with the increased volume of traffic accessing and leaving the property, and potential for reduced water pressure and increased flooding in the neighbouring homes.
“The water lines and sewage pipes that service this area were never designed to accommodate the increased demand from this type of residential development,” said Whitelaw. “This proposed development will encroach on our quality of life. Site lines from the neighbouring properties will be obstructed by the six-storey building, as well as the additional trees that will be planted by the developer around the perimeter of the property. Although this may seem a minor issue, residents have enjoyed being able to watch the sunrise. This will be gone, and we’ll have to worry about people staring down at us.”
Whitelaw said that the development would severely impact property resale values of nearby homes.
Pastor David Hamp of Concordia Lutheran Church told the Voice that the lot has not been severed yet, although a sales agreement has been signed.
Asked if the church was aware of the developers’ plan to erect a six-storey condominium on the site, Hamp responded, “That’s something that the church council dealt with. It’s a huge piece of property, and was a problem for us to take care of all the time.”
With regard to awareness of the disgruntled neighbours, Hamp said, “That’s something they have to talk to the developer about. I’m not sure how it’s all going to work out now. This all started when [developer] Stephen Kaiser approached us. He’s the one in charge of the whole thing. We started talking a couple years ago. When the whole thing started, I just pass it over to my church council, and they took care of it, so I’m out of the loop on that.”
Kaiser, a former president of the Ontario Home Builders Association, partnered with the developer Fonthill Gardens— itself a subsidiary of The Allen Group, a GTA commercial developer—in the development of East Fonthill during former mayor David Augustyn’s controversial last years in office.
This all started when [developer] Stephen Kaiser approached us. He’s the one in charge of the whole thing.
Barb Wiens, Pelham’s Director of Community Planning and Development, wrote in an October 27 email to Whitelaw that her office was aware of the development proposal for the Concordia Church property, and noted that a number of development approvals are required to allow the project to proceed, including a consent application to create the lot from the church property, along with a zoning bylaw amendment application.
“The Committee of Adjustment is the approval authority on the consent application and [Town] Council is approval authority on the zoning bylaw amendment application,” wrote Wiens. “Once decisions are made on the consent and zoning bylaw amendment applications, the developer will be in a position to move forward with a site plan application, if the decisions are favourable. If the decisions are not favourable, the developer will have to consider their options at that time.”
Wiens added in her email that Town staff have taken no position on the applications, which will be circulated to departments and agencies for review and comment, and that the public will be given an opportunity to provide input.
Whitelaw has created an online petition dedicated to rejection of the 105 Welland Road rezoning bylaw amendment application, available at: https://chng.it/XhqWcVGbQC. He may be contacted at [email protected].
Stephen Kaiser, who owns Kaiser Homes in partnership with his wife, Robin, told the Voice that the October 26 information session for the neighbours was not mandated as part of the process, but was offered as a goodwill gesture to provide a heads-up as to what his firm was proposing.
“The Committee of Adjustment hearing is in regard to severance of one acre from the church property,” said Kaiser. “Our development group has an option to purchase the westerly portion of the church property. It’s really about the sustainability and long-term viability of the church. We’ve had lengthy discussions with the church, which included selling the whole parcel, but the church would like to try to make a go of it with the money from the sale of the land. We will build them a new paved parking lot, up to urban standards, rather than the gravel surface that’s on the westerly portion now.”
At this point, Kaiser does not want to argue the merits of the six-storey condominium building proposed for the site.
“This first step is about severing a piece of property from the whole. I just don’t want to get way out ahead of this. We’re anxious to hear comments from the neighbours as part of the process. I’m acknowledging the concern from the residents who live immediately adjacent, and we’re going to listen and see what we can do to mitigate their concerns,” he said.
Kaiser informed the Voice on November 11 that he was planning to contact the Town of Pelham, requesting that the December 6 Committee of Adjustment hearing related to severance of the property at 105 Welland Road be deferred.
“In retrospect, we feel it is better to follow the process with the rezoning first, as the severance may be interpreted as permitting the development of the proposed residential condominium,” he said.
The Voice has confirmed that the December 6 meeting to address severance has been postponed until a future date.
Wiens said that the zoning application meeting for the property has been slated for December 12.
Residents are invited to participate in the future Committee of Adjustment virtual meeting regarding property severance by sending an email to [email protected]. Verbal and written comments may also be submitted.
The online meeting link is available at: www.youtube.com/user/TownOfPelham