Saturday, August 20, 2011

Projected Impact of the Proposed Front Setback Variance of 66 Baby Pt. Rd.

The Villager - August 11, 2011 by Lisa Rainford

Residents on Baby Point Road are dismayed a neighbour has been given permission to build a three-storey house mere metres from the sidewalk.

Flash: - This may be Appealed to the OMB

A City of Toronto Committee of Adjustment, deemed the application a minor variance Thursday evening, July 28, despite the neighbourhood's effort to prove otherwise.

Property owner Lorne Bozinoff had the original 1920s Arts and Craft-style, one-and-a-half-storey cottage designed by architect Robert Home Smith demolished in November to make room for the new house.

"We are disappointed in the committee's decision. The applicant's reason for moving this 6,000-square foot house forward was to improve the streetscape," said David Bronskill, the lawyer representing some Baby Point residents. "We fail to see how pushing forward a house that is two times the size of nearby homes does anything except overwhelm the streetscape."

Reached by telephone Monday, Aug. 8, Bozinoff said he was "very pleased" with the outcome of the meeting. "It was unanimous in our favour," he said.

As many as 15 residents attended the late July meeting. Those who could not be there expressed their opposition through written letters to the committee. The new house is the first in the immediate area to violate the front yard setback requirement of 9.13 metres, Bronskill said. Bozinoff plans to construct his house 6.46 metres from the south front lot line. Although, he said he has yet to determine when construction will be begin.

Parkdale-High Park Councillor Sarah Doucette supported the consensus of her constituents by writing a letter to the committee. She said she felt that by moving the house forward, the property would lose crucial green space.

Area residents are scratching their heads as to why the committee decided the character of Baby Point Circle should be forever altered to accommodate a large house with a backyard pool. "Neighbours are incredulous at why the streetscape should be permanently be changed to suit Mr. Bozinoff's development rather than changes being made to his development plan to suit the streetscape," said David Ceolin, who lives on the Baby Point Circle.

Based on neighbours' input last year, Bozinoff said he and his architects redesigned the house. Neighbours had 21 days from July 28 to decide if they wanted to fight the decision at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

This decision had yet to be made by The Villager's press deadline.

Meanwhile, Bozinoff said he is in the midst of finalizing interior drawings. "If the committee's decision is appealed, we would hope that the OMB would place great weight on this persuasive evidence and protect the existing physical character of this beautiful neighbourhood," Bronskill said.

Neighbours charge the new structure will occupy 90 per cent of the allowable lot space, 99 per cent of the allowable width and is twice as large as the house next door, despite claims that they are similar in size. "I feel like the people on the committee have failed us. The evidence that was presented was ignored," said Kevin O'Doherty, a nine-year resident, adding that he feels the new house will dramatically change the imprint of Baby Point.

The neighbourhood was a featured on a show called Structures, which highlights stories about Toronto's local culture and heritage. The program, said Ceolin, included architectural and urban planning experts commenting on Home Smith's vision for Baby Point. Home Smith wanted to ensure that houses did not overwhelm each other or the lots on which they were built, said Ceolin.

"The implications of this decision are that this historically admired streetscape has now been permanently altered so one individual can have a large lap pool for his 6,500-square foot footprint," he said.

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