Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Re-zoning proposed for new subdivision

The Town of Fort Frances is taking the next step in turning the former Huffman School property on Williams Avenue into a residential subdivision, and will hold a public meeting on a proposed re-zoning Nov. 26.
The purpose of the re-zoning—from institutional to residential—is to accommodate the creation of a 16-lot residential subdivision, with six fronting Williams Avenue and an additional 10 on a proposed cul-de-sac.

Large copies of the site plan, showing the layout of the 16 lots, will be posted shortly at town buildings including the Civic Centre, Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre, and the Memorial Sports Centre, as well as on the town’s website (, so people can look and see what the subdivision is going to look like.
Municipal planner Faye Flatt said she already has a list of 12 people who are interested in buying lots to build homes on, and she is encouraging everyone who is interested to contact her via e-mail at
“What I am doing is I am keeping a list, and it is confidential,” noted Flatt. “The people who are on the list, I have been updating them periodically over the last few months so they get a bit of advance notice of what’s happening.”
Flatt clarified that being on the list does not obligate anyone to buy a lot when they are ready for sale. When the lots are put up for sale, there will be a formal procedure for those interested in getting in on the process.
Flatt added she will be preparing a report for town council over the winter which covers all of the decisions it still has to make, including determining how the lots will be sold.
“There’s so many options: we can do it by a lottery, we can do first-come, first-serve, we can do it by tender, we can do it by minimum bid,” she explained.
“There’s a whole slew of options and each one probably has its pros and cons.”
Other factors, such as how lots will be priced and whether the town puts conditions on lot sales (and if so, how will the conditions be enforced), also have to be determined over the winter.
“One thing for sure that has been voiced by council, I think it’s unanimous, is the price is going to be determined by the cost of development,” said Flatt.
“It’s not a revenue-generating exercise,” she stressed. “We are not going to tack on additional costs.
“We’re going to do it the most cost-effective way we can.”
Once the property is re-zoned, the town will get more numbers on the cost to develop the property, the property will be surveyed into lots, and the project will be tendered both for demolition and infrastructure installation.
The school will be demolished in March, April, or May, then the infrastructure will be installed into the ground.
Once developed, the lots will be deemed surplus and offered for sale sometime next summer.
As per the re-zoning process, the town is looking for public input on the proposed subdivision, with a public meeting set for Monday, Nov. 26 in conjunction with that night’s regular council meeting.
The bylaw relevant to the proposed zoning amendment then will be considered at the next regular council meeting (Dec. 10).
Any written submission to council, either in hard copy or electronic format, must be submitted to the clerk’s office no later than noon on Nov. 26 to ensure its availability to the members of council at the meeting.
Those wanting to speak at the public meeting are requested to submit a written outline of the submission to the town clerk.
All submissions should include the full name and address of the presenter.
The town bought the property in November, 2010 from the Rainy River District School Board for $158,325.74, with the intention to utilize the site for residential development that may or may not have involved demolition of the vacant school.
After having several committees review potential usage of the property, it was determined that demolishing the school and developing the property to sell for housing was the best option.
For more information, contact Flatt at 274-5323 ext. 275 or via e-mail at

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