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PO plans to be toned down: developer

“We’re going to sit down within the next 60 days and rework the plan,” says the developer of the proposed eight-storey condominium development at the old post office at 2 Laird Dr.

His comment came in a telephone conversation following an emotional meeting of 200 neighbours at St. Anselm’s Church in late September.

“Are we going to concede everything? No. That’s not right,” said David Lehberg, president and CEO of Knightstone Capital Management Inc.

He pointed out, “We were within our rights to take this to the OMB months ago and we have elected not to do that.” (If a developer does not get a decision within 120 days of filing he can take the matter to the OMB. The 120 days were up June 22.)

There was firm opposition at the meeting to the current plans.

They “would have my house facing a 15-foot wall,” said Brenda Berge, of Krawchuk Lane.

“Please be mindful,” Berge said to the developer at the meeting, “This building will be directly in front of our homes. How would you feel if you were in our shoes?”

Sudong Huang, also of Krawchuk Lane, said, “I feel totally depressed. No one will buy my house with that building there. The building has to fit into the neighbourhood and you have to protect the neighbours’ health and well being.”

In the telephone conversation Lehberg said his proposal would improve the value of the adjacent properties: “The marketability and valuation will be that much stronger with a condo building rather than the industrial building that exists today.”

“One has to have sympathy for the residents on Krawchuk Lane and Malcolm Rd.,” said Terry Russell, of Southlea. “How can it possibly be that something like this would be put forward in a serious way?”

Realtor Patrick Rocca, in opposition, pointed out, “Construction could take two to three years.”

Many speakers complained the development would create too much traffic. There are 98 units, 116 parking spots for residents and 20 spots for visitors in the plan.

Interviewed after the meeting Brian Athey, president of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association, said visitor parking would be a problem. “People do not like going underground. People like to park on grade. Malcolm could become overrun with cars.

“The biggest issue,” he said, is density. “The number of units and its relationship with single family homes and townhouses.”

You need proper transition, he said. “You don’t go from two-storey homes to an eight-storey condo.

“The proposal as it is would clearly affect their lives directly.”

Joan Briant, Randolph Rd., who has lived in Leaside 26 years, said after the September meeting the tall building is out of place and context at an entry point into Leaside.  “It doesn’t give the right message about what Leaside is; it’s residential in an old fashioned way.”

Concerns about height, density, traffic, scale, transition and noise were raised repeatedly throughout the meeting. Deni Papetti, who lives next door to the site on Malcolm, was an early opponent. He rallied neighbours with a petition this past spring.

Another one was launched in early October. You can find it at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/2-laird-drive/. Between the two there are over 500 signatures.

Councillor John Parker closed the September meeting saying, “What we have to do as a community, we need to come to the right mix of issues that need to be addressed so that we can protect what’s important to our community. And respect what the developer can expect from the process knowing that the developer has recourse if we overplay our hand.”