Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
May 21, 2024
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Tulip Estates

The ambitious new 54-acre plan could add five new streets to the neighbourhood off Owen Street in East Picton. At least 200 houses are coming, as well as a large 2.5 acre park.
<p>A mix of 199-352 new homes are planned for a 54 acre site southeast of Picton. (Hilden Homes planning graphic)</p>
A mix of 199-352 new homes are planned for a 54 acre site southeast of Picton. (Hilden Homes planning graphic)

Hilden Homes has received draft plan approval from Council’s Planning and Development Committee for a new subdivision in Picton.

Hilden proposes between 199-352 new homes, a mix of singles, semis, townhomes, and apartments, on 22 hectares (54 acres) just south and east of Picton Bay on what will be called Tulip Estates.

The ambitious new development is tucked in between the Pineridge subdivision off Union Street, Owen Street, and Port Picton on the Loyalist Parkway. Five new streets will be added to the existing neighbourhood over four phases of development, as well as a large 2.5 acre park. A smaller park will give onto a greenspace between Tulip Estates and Pineridge.

Five draft plans for the proposed subdivision have gone back and forth between Hilden Homes and County staff. More amendments came before the vote by the Planning and Development Committee last month.

A major issue in Picton, as in Wellington, is water/wastewater servicing capacity. Residents at the meeting said the neighbourhood has experienced serious declines in water pressure over the past ten years. 

Municipal Water Supply a Question Mark

Concerns about adequate existing infrastructure to support even just the first two phases of Tulip Estates mean the County cannot allocate existing water servicing capacity until the builder is at the stage of paying connection charges.

For Hilden, that’s a lot of uncertainty.

As Mark Touw, from Arcadis planning consultants, who prepared the justification report for Hilden Homes, put it, “there is significant uncertainty with developing under this condition. The proponent would like allocation assigned earlier in the process for at least one to two first phases.”

“But while we are looking for some kind of consideration, we don’t want to forestall the application going to Council.”

Last Minute Wrangles

Another major sticking point was the higher housing density and greater affordability the County asked for in Block 11. Even at the stage of the Planning meeting, Hilden was still proposing townhomes and condo apartments to increase density.

Planning staff and councillors, however, insisted on something more affordable, and stipulated the block be zoned mixed-use, allowing for a rental apartment building with main floor space for a convenience store and other amenities, such as a doctor’s office.

(Hilden Homes planning graphic)

Discussion considered how many apartments could be built. The County is hoping for at least 100. 

As Hilden has little experience with apartment buildings, the builder then announced it plans to sell that parcel to another developer, a plan that could delay the early phases of development — and make the critical water servicing allocation even more uncertain.

Trying to find a solution, Councillor St. Jean suggested Hilden might enter a P3, or public-private partnership, with the County’s affordable housing corporation to build the apartment building.

Hilden’s President, Eric DenOuden, said he was “wide open” to a conversation about affordable housing strategies.

He detailed how difficult it is to build new houses considered affordable, but noted his company moves with the market. A series of townhomes he recently completed in Quinte West have 1200 square feet and a garage, and cost about $450,000.

He noted his homebuilding has evolved from a focus on single-detached to more affordable housing styles, such as townhomes.

“We really have to play the markets, which have shifted several times since we acquired this property 2019.”

“As you know,” Mr. DenOuden told the committee, “it’s not cheap to develop land any more. The off-site services, the stormwater ponds, the parks, the walking paths. It all adds up.”

(Hilden Homes planning graphic)

Another concern is the small park in block 17. County planners want it moved west so it lines up exactly with an existing park off Pineridge.

Hilden wants to leave it where it is so it can build a few more homes next to it. “We think the best use of the additional frontage is for the provision of housing,” said Emma Stucke, also of Arcadis.

Michael Michaud pointed out the County did not want additional frontage, it simply wanted the park moved. That point was left unresolved.

Other concerns included Hilden’s “clearcutting” of large swathes of land in preparation for building. “Was any thought ever given to preserving some of the treeline?” asked Councillor Prinzen.

Mr. Touw explained that the site has a significant slope, making building a challenge. It had to be cleared to make way for re-grading.

Building will, however, involve “revegetation:” one tree for each lot developed and a landscape plan for parks and other public spaces.

Final amendments moved maximum building height up from 15 metres to 18, and stipulated a minimum number of square feet be devoted to commercial use in Block 11. That number will be determined before the zoning amendment by-law receives final approval at Council.

Increased traffic will require construction of a west-bound left turn lane from the new neighbourhood onto Bridge Street/Loyalist Parkway; signaled intersections at other key points were also required of the developer in the amendment.

The whole package of draft plan of subdivision and zoning by-law amendment comes to Council for final review and approval within the month. 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 18 edition of The Picton Gazette
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