Dysart et al council approved elevation drawings for a new commercial development at Hops Drive by a 4-3 vote after a divide over the appearance of the stores.

Toronto-based Marnac Management Corp. is planning to build at the locale on County Road 21 in Haliburton, including a 10,000 square-foot retail store, a restaurant with a drive-thru and a gas bar.

Council approved the draft site-plan agreement Oct. 27 with conditions, including more work on the elevations along the exterior of the building.

Senior planner Kris Orsan said Marnac offered to add minimal features over the entrance of one building, but they suggested Marnac should develop the exteriors more – adding things like wood or brick along the entire front face of the buildings to meet the vision of the municipality. But the developer instead asked its proposal, lacking more added features, be brought to council.

“Commercial development outside the central business area should be developed in a matter that meets the intent of the municipality’s policies,” Orsan said. “These areas are the gateway to the community.”

Orsan said more articulation would “enhance the unique built form and natural character of the community.” He also noted the municipality required this of other large developments like Home Hardware and the Gardens of Haliburton.

Coun. John Smith said he agreed with the staffs’ perspective.

“We got a chance to ensure it is built right or to ensure it looks like an ugly box that could be located in any community,” Smith said. “Council needs to be consistent.”

“We’re not asking for the sky and moon. Just reconsideration for something that’s going to benefit the long-term,” Coun. Larry Clarke said.

But Coun. Walt McKechnie opposed them and said the municipality should approve the developer’s drawings and not risk losing the project.

“We should try to work with him more instead of always throwing up roadblocks,” McKechnie said. “The mistake was made a long, long time ago where the facades are not all this rustic look that we’re trying to create. Every building is different and we’re no different than most small towns. This is a big investment.”

In a recorded vote, councillors McKechnie, Nancy Wood-Roberts and Tammy Donaldson voted in favour of approving the developer’s elevations, while deputy mayor Patrick Kennedy and councillors Smith and Clarke voted against.

Mayor Andrea Roberts was the tiebreaking vote and went in favour of the developer’s proposal.

“I don’t think this is a battle I want to keep fighting,” she said.

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