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Town considering rezoning request for refurbished Murray St. property

People sitting on picnic tables behind 70 Murray St.
People enjoyed sitting on picnic tables at Amherstburg Ribfest, around the property at 70 Murray St. The owners of the property propose a patio on a more permanent basis, and are looking for a rezoning to accommodate that.

Amherstburg town council is considering a rezoning to accommodate two small commercial structures behind a Murray St. property.

At a special planning meeting held last week, town council heard the request to change the zoning at 70 Murray St. from Special Provision Commercial General (CG-4) zone to a Special Provision Commercial General (CG-19) zone. A report from Janine Mastronardi, a planner with the Town of Amherstburg, points out the lands are designated General Commercial in the town’s Official Plan.

“The applicant has removed an old structure from the rear yard and is proposing the construction of two 160 sq ft commercial structures to be located in the rear yard of the existing development to create an outdoor patio/gathering place.

The effect of the amendment will allow for relief in rear yard setback to permit a 1.2 m rear yard setback from the required 7.5 m for the proposed 160 sq ft commercial structures,” the report from Mastronardi stated. “The proposed rezoning will also allow for relief in minimum building height to permit a building height of 2.4 m from the required 7 m minimum building height. All other existing CG-4 provisions are proposed to remain the same.”

The property at 70 Murray St. is geared towards multiple uses, including retail units on the main floor and Hotel STRY on the top floor.

Property owner Lauri Brouyette and planner Jackie Lassaline of Lassaline Planning Consultants Inc. appeared before town council to explain the proposal.

“There will be two new commercial structures located in the rear adjacent to the alleyway,” Lassaline explained.

Lassaline said the bylaw would allow for site specific zoning to accommodate the two structures.

“This building has recently been renovated and the beautifully done restoration has been adapted with a boutique hotel,” said Lassaline.

The two commercial structures are not going to be joined to the existing building and the patio would have a maximum of 86 occupants.

“In my professional planning opinion, I believe the requested zoning bylaw amendment is consistent with the PPS (Provincial Policy Statement), conforms with your Official Plan for the town, complies with the intent of the comprehensive zoning bylaw and does make sound planning,” she added.

Councillor Don McArthur noted a question from the neighbouring Thistle Masonic Lodge regarding a white door on that building that is used for a fire exit. He wanted to ensure there is a laneway so they can still use the fire exit.

“There will be a separation distance and we will make sure we are compliant with the code for the emergency access separation,” said Lassaline.

Councillor Molly Allaire wanted clarification on whether it’s a patio or an enclosed area, with Lassaline stating the two structures will be there to serve drinks and food.

“There will be tables and chairs,” said Lassaline. “It will be opened up.”

Outdoor entertainment and exemptions from the town’s noise bylaw was an issue raised by Councillor Diane Pouget. Lassaline said they are looking for that as well.

Pouget wanted to know if the structures will be new or brought in, with Lassaline saying they will be opened to the front where people can walk up and purchase drinks or food. A back door of the main building will house the washrooms, said Lassaline.

Brouyette said the structures are pre-fabricated and sit on the ground.

Mayor Michael Prue wanted to know if things as heat lamps will be used to extend the usage of the patio in colder weather months.

“We really want to be able to use this patio for as many months of the year as possible, just to keep it an open space so people can enjoy the art and everything,” said Brouyette. “We’d like to be able to, in the future if the weather calls for it, create a warm space. We do have the interior of the building as well.”

Pouget wanted to ensure the patio, including tables and chairs were AODA compliant. Brouyette said the entrance to the building and washrooms are compliant, with tables and chairs featuring picnic tables with moveable benches to accommodate those with wheelchairs.

Noise bylaw issues were also addressed by Pouget, with nearby condominiums and apartments nearby.

“It’s mostly older people in there,” she said.

Brouyette pointed out there is also the boutique hotel with six units they would want to look after.

“We certainly wouldn’t go past 11 p.m. with any noise coming from our property,” said Brouyette.

A noise bylaw exemption would be sought on a seasonal basis when Open Air is going, she added.

“I actually like this idea. It’s a pretty good use of space,” said Councillor Peter Courtney. “I just want to go on the record I think this is a great idea.”

Courtney wanted to ensure there were no concerns of people exiting the property with the additions to the rear. Fire chief Bruce Montone said his department has not received a request for input regarding the site plan. When that occurs, Montone said means of egress cannot be obstructed for people inside and that will be looked at when his department officially looks at the matter.

“At that time when the site plan is reviewed by our staff for approval, those issues will be addressed,” said Montone.

The address of the units was brought up by Courtney as well. The fire safety matters are a site plan and/or building permit issue, noted manager of planning services Chris Aspila.

Aspila said there is a street naming system and envisioned the structures being named something like “101” or “Unit A,” and called it a site plan control issue.

Town considering rezoning request for refurbished Murray St. property

By Ron Giofu

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