Haliburton could have 88 new residential units off of Peninsula Road if the owner of a vacant 14.9 ha parcel of land gets planning approvals from Dysart and the County.

Paul Wilson owns the land on the west side of Grass Lake. It is bordered by Peninsula Road to the west and Haliburton County Road 21 to the north. The turn-off would be just west of the Lakeview Motel.

In addition to what would be condos, there is a plan to have a commercial component along the highway.

Harburn Holdings Ltd., in a June 1, 2021 letter to residents from planner Anthony Usher, reads, “my client and I look forward to discussing any concerns you may have about the proposal and the application information. We are open to considering changes to the application that might reasonably accommodate those concerns.”

Usher said they are looking to develop “lifestyle residential” units and some commercial uses. He said they are talking about one or two multi-residential buildings, for a total of 88 units. Usher added each lot would have its own entrance from Peninsula Road, and have municipal sewer and wells.

Nearby residents share concerns

“Much like a condo corporation,” he said.

They have submitted official plan and zoning bylaw amendment applications to Dysart and a severance request to the County. They have yet to come before council and no public meetings have been scheduled.

The Highlander has already received one letter of objection from residents, Jurgen and Angela Haedicke, over tree cutting, water quality on Grass Lake, and their belief the development does not fit in with its surroundings.

Usher said he had received a number of letters from Dysart et al planner Jeff Iles and was preparing a response.

Usher said they had done an environmental impact study and wetland site assessment as well as hydrogeological and archeological assessments. He said they would offer protection by only clearing 50 per cent of trees and leaving wetlands alone.

Usher said the report indicates “the proposed development would appropriately respond to the natural environmental sensitivities of this property, ensure excellent water quality protections for Grass Lake and also be sensitive to surrounding shoreline properties and to others using the lake for recreation.”

As for fitting in, his planning report noted the site is surrounded by predominately low-density development, such as Haliburton Veterinary Services, a six-unit residence, and the motel. He said the only high-density uses are the Tim Hortons and Whispering Pines.

However, he said the project would help with one of the municipality’s key goals of providing much-needed housing including some affordable housing.

The Haedickes sent a letter to the editor Aug. 20, expressing their “strong opposition.”

Residents of Grass Lake since 2004, they wrote, “This whole area is already heavily affected by the new Tim Hortons,” including light pollution.

Further while the developers say they will only have one small dock and not allow power boats, Jurgen Haedicke said “that’s misleading: who can forbid the use of a power boat on public lakes?”

He’s worried about the health of Grass Lake, saying the number of weeds has increased substantially in the last few years.

He further queried if the sewage treatment plant has capacity after other major developments in the town.

Iles told The Highlander there is sufficient sewer capacity for the proposal.

The Haedickes concluded their letter with “we hope that the council of this municipality is not only guided by the chance to increase the property tax base and the rule more and bigger is better, regardless of the negative consequences for the environment and people affected.”

But in his planning report, Usher said “It is not expected that this proposal will cause significant public concern, beyond immediate neighbours and the Grass Lake community, if at all.”

Usher said they would consider organizing an open house, virtual, if necessary, for interested neighbours and Lake Kashagawigamog Organization representatives “if at any point during the process it appears that it would be appropriate and productive for all concerned.” He urged the public to liaise with the township and council. Iles said the township is reviewing the submitted plans and background studies. Wilson declined an interview request. Usher said he did not have a timeline for the development, noting Wilson has owned the land since 2003

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