The Old and New Graham House

You might remember this… October 2016. Cecil Graham’s former rental property was for sale on a 10 acre piece of land. The house was initially trucked in from across Colonel By Lake. It was a small wood-frame house  and Cecil clad it in Angel stone. When the property sold they dismantled the old little house and build a three thousand square foot house instead.

And this… July 2017.

And the newly built house…

June 2018, the new house was built in part on the old foundation, Why? Maybe that way the planning department allowed two extra lots to be severed for a small estate development of three houses.

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Graham House and Lot Sold and For Sale Again

The Angel-stone house at 90 Aragon Road, that Cecil and Wilma Graham owned and rented, was shipped by tractor and large trailer from the Isle of Man across from Colonel By Lake. It was recently sold. Click here for more information on the history of the little house

The little wood frame house that Cecil Graham scooped up at the Isle of Man and dragged it to 90 Aragon Road. Later he had it clad in Angel-stone. Cecil and Wilma never sold land for private development and we owe it to them that our Aragon Road is an attractive “forced road” that has preserved many of the late 1800-s characteristics. The ten acre lot was separate from the Graham farm property. Photo credit: Henk Wevers

Century 21 now advertises 5 acres, or half of the lot, for sale. The advertisement suggests one can build a one million plus house on it: “Build your dream home on this picturesque parcel of land situated 5 mins from Kingston. Legacy Fine homes welcomes you to customize the home you have always wanted on this 5 acre parcel with elevated rolling hills. A rare offering to have this size of parcel this close to the city and steps to the Great Cataraqui River. A few front elevations for your selection have been provided but your plans can be accommodated. Pricing will change based on model being built. Lot to be severed and occupancy could be as early as Fall 2017. Expect stunning stone elevation with stunning roof lines Enjoy the comfort and feel of a net zero home! Custom work can be added to this build to truly suit all of your needs.”

This is an example what a million plus buys. Photo credit: Century 21 website.

90 B ARAGON RD, Listing ID 363260504, ON, Kingston, Canada - ID178562071.jpgPresumably when this “net zero” home is built, the other 5 acres might see a similar house built on it? 

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There is one thing we can all agree on: the land along Aragon Road IS picturesque.

But “elevated hills”? Isn’t that an oxymoron? And “5 minutes from Kingston” is patently wrong, we are already in Kingston, 15 minutes from downtown. And “…steps to the Great Cataraqui River,” is a bit of a stretch, maybe in real-estate we deal with “alternative facts”? There is no Great Cataraqui River, just Cataraqui River and it starts at Kingston Mills from where it runs into Lake Ontario.  What does “net zero” mean? Pay a million and get “net zero”? Ah well that’s progress.

This is a view to the west of the 5 acre parcel with “elevated rolling hills”. Five more acres extend to the right of the trees . Photo credit: Henk Wevers

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In other news, the Graham farm has been sold to George Patrick and Marie-Ann Carey on December  21, 2016.  Their land together with the new acquisition covers several hundreds of acres between Paterson Road and the Aragon Road.

Long term neighbours on our road will remember that a large part of this prime agricultural land was studied between 1982-88 for making a municipal dump site. Very hard work in opposition to this plan included the Carey families, many families around the Glenburnie area, and a sophisticated neighbourhood committee that won the case against the dump. The then Reeve of Kingston Township, Isabel Turner presented Dr. Bob Wolfe the committee chair with an award for “constructive opposition”. Is that another oxymoron?  Stay posted for a story about this period.

Congratulations to the Careys for procuring the Graham tract of land an preserving our rural landscape and the land as agricultural.

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The new bridge at Kingston Mills Locks is nearing completion, the up-ramp coming from HW 15 and Station Road is now wider and it will be much easier to wait for oncoming traffic from the bridge. It is still one lane though, because Parks Canada wanted to change as little as possible in this historic site.

The new bridge at the south-east side of the locks at Kingston Mills, Ontario. Photo credit: Henk Wevers, March 18, 2017

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UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE; the Rideau Canal

Boating on the Rideau offers a unique perspective of the beautiful undisturbed shoreline harbouring much wildlife among the varied natural shoreline: Blue Herons, Osprey, even Bald Eagles, and the ever graceful white Mute Swans floating serenely on the water. This is a shy wading bird the Green Heron, one of the smallest of herons. Photo: Henk Wevers.

bl green or least bittern heron draper bay june 19 2016 a

That is one of the reasons the historic waterway between Kingston and Ottawa received its world heritage designation in 2007. Here is what the UNESCO website calls it: The Rideau Canal, a monumental early 19th-century construction covering 202 km of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers from Ottawa south to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario…

But there is a lot of pressure from developers to sell estate lots along the same waterway, see the latest a twelve lot subdivision bordering on the canal between the River Styx and Colonel By Lake.

isl of man real estate lots cropped

Waterfront is attractive but with restrictions written into the approval document make access to the water impossible. The Council of the City of Kingston approved the development reluctantly after the developers had taken their 2012 plan to the Municipal Board of Ontario, and won. The latest planning report dated 2016 includes minimal setbacks from the high water level of 40 metres, with no disturbance to soil or vegetation. Prospective purchasers to be advised that these are not water access lots. We can only hope that the purchasers of these lots will follow these guidelines and that there is no creeping deterioration of the natural environment at the fringes of this development.

Bobolinks are nesting here and are impacted by lots 2 and 3 and the developer has to take measures to mitigate this.  Will that prevent the disappearance of habitat for this protected bird? Will there be follow-up by field naturalists or biologists?
bobo_jimmccree

Bobolink male with his characteristic white back, “a tuxedo worn backwards”. By clicking the photo you will be taken to the source of this photo where you can read more about birding.

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This is the aerial view from Google Earth.

isl of man july 2016 google earth

The parcel of land, sixteen hectare will have thirteen estate lots. It is just opposite the Allen Point development, seen on the left bottom.. The new development is bordered on three sides by the Rideau, with sensitive wetland just below the middle of the photo. The shoreline is protected by existing vegetation such as trees and shrubs. But will the City be vigilant to check that the forty meter setback from the shore will remain as is? Or will the owners of houses bordering the canal be tempted to cut “here and there”, so that over time the natural shoreline gets denuded?

There is a tree inventory of the site with 180 trees located along the shore line and in clusters on the property.  A tree conservation plan will be required as a draft plan condition which includes the 40 meter setback from the high water mark as said before.

isl of man july 2016 list re conditions

This is a copy of the most salient issues and conditions. (Page 117 of Report PC-16-017). Note point 3 where it states that the shoreline will be stabilised. How will that be done? Currently it is a natural clay embankment that resulted from the digging by hand to enlarge the Cataraqui Creek in 1830-s. It also shows the thick layer of clay that overlays the limestone in the fields north of the Aragon Road that have been declared Prime Agricultural land because of that fertile clay based soil.

By the way: The development will have a publicly owned park.

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isle of man Bobolink,_Mer_Bleue

 

 

ISLE OF MAN ESTATE DEVELOPMENT

The Isle of Man is a relative unknown part of our neighbourhood. It is located in the north east corner of Colonel  By Lake, bordering Gibraltar Bay, see the satellite photo below. The City of Kingston Council just approved, with some restrictions, a 29 estate housing development bordering the bay.

Gibraltar Bay is a secluded small bay and the development will dominate this sensitive nature enclave. The bay is shallow and has several marshes: two at each end and one right in the development.

isle of man gibraltar bay cropped Colonel By Lake from space with Gibraltar Bay at the upper right corner. The development is at the east side of the bay near the mid lenght of the bay.

Below is the site plan. OS is open space it was changed from EPA or Environmental Protection Area to OS; OS 16-17 borders on a sensitive wetland. FP is a meandering greenspace, they are “major storm swales” ; that means all the runoff from the estate house lawns are directly fed to the wetland and then mixes in with the small and sensitive bay. We can only hope that extensive lawns around the estate houses will not use fertilizer as it would cause much weed and algae growth in the small and shallow bay. 

isle of man development plan map

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The satellite photo below is the same as the development site and is cropped from the first overall satellite photo of the bay and its littoral zone. The white areas are pasture and hay growing agricultural land. Note the forested shoreline which will play an important role in absorbing the runoff from the manicured lawns that might be expected from a compact estate development.

The little bay in the shape of a human ear, located just left under the middle of the photo, is marsh and wetland. Please relate this to the building site map below.

isle of man satellite photo cropped

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Isle of Man development epa areas croppedThese are the environmental protection areas inside the development and along the shore,they have been amended as Open Space. But, There are several setbacks from the high water mark and from greenspaces within the development.

Here are some of the the by-laws as they apply to estate developments in general and in addition for this particular plan. We can only hope that they will be strictly enforced.

No structures shall be located closer than 40 metres from the high water mark of Colonel By Lake, defined as 88.92 metres above sea level.

 The lands zoned OS, open space, shall be used for no purpose other than conservation use and tree protection area.

Restrictive Covenants: “That lots abutting Colonel By Lake (Gibraltar Bay) are ‘water view lots’ with a minimum 40 metre setback from the high water mark of Colonel By Lake and the maintenance of a 30 metre ‘no-cut’ area within the setback. Marine facilities (including but not limited to boathouses and/or docks) are prohibited.”

Elsewhere “no cut” is described as: ” no disturbance of the soil mantle or vegetation cover.” If this is strictly enforced the shoreline of the highly secluded Gibraltar Bay might be protected, have a look how it is now…

bay of gibraltar entranceJust before entering Gibraltar Bay looking towards the new 29 estate development land.

bay of gibraltar entrance cormorants This the entrance from Colonel By Lake through its north-eastern arm into Gibraltar Bay through a shallow and narrow natural channel. Adult cormorant with young perching on one of the rocks at the entrance.

bay of gibraltar estate lots north treed waterfrontJust through the entrance into Gibraltar Bay looking to the north-east: a nice well protected shoreline. This cannot be cut and will act as a filter for the run-off from the 29 estate buildings each with their septic systems and large lawns that drain towards the bay.

bay of gibraltar estate lots north waterfront aug 2015A little further, the pasture land runs up to the water’s edge. From the water the estate houses will be in full view and replace the bucolic landscape..

We can only hope that the sensitive habitat is respected by the future owners of the estate development. Gibraltar Bay is shallow, small and would only tolerate some fishing and canoeing. The restrictions on the development might mitigate its effect on the water and the adjacent land, let’s hope.

Other areas around Colonel By Lake are being studied for the possibility of more estate development see our post at: “Three Areas on Colonel By to be Studied”.

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Here is a letter added to the city report as exhibit F:

RE: Zoning By-Law Amendment D09-064-2012, DJ4-235-2012, 012-067-2012

I am writing to express my concerns about rezoning of 2611 Isle of Mann Road, the majority of which fronts onto Gibraltar Bay. These are protected waters that form part of the Cataraqui/Rideau System, but most importantly are pat1 of a marsh that is critical .to pollution treatment and nutrient cycling of Colonel By lake. It is also a vital Fish and Bird habitat.

You may already be aware that wetlands cleanse water by filtering out natural and many manmade pollutants, which are then broken down or immobilized. In wetlands, organic materials are also broken down and recycled back into the environment, where they support the food chain. Wetlands are also one of the most productive habitats f01: feeding; nesting, spawning, resting and cover for fish and wildlife, including many rare and endangered species.

This particular wetland is home to a healthy diversity of fish, birds and amphibians and I have documented the presence of Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles,, Red-tailed hawk, and ospreys (with an osprey nest right on the property). Birds that stop to feed for about a month on their way north or south are Mergansers, Swans, Rails and Cormorants, among others. Many duck species use the quiet shelter of Gibraltar Point as a summer nursery. The marsh is also home to snapping turtles and painted turtles as well as a variety of frogs and fish. These are just a sprinkling of the incredible habitat whose balance is already incredibly challenged with the intensity of residential development at Rideau Acres Trailer Park. To create another high-intensity residential area could tip the balance of the health of the waterway.

Two years ago at the “Source Water Protection” meetings held for the public, residents on Colonel By lake expressed concerns about the impact of sewage output into the lake (Colonel By) from hundreds of trailers at Rideau Acres. Their concerns seemed justified since over the last couple years we’ve seen the blue-green algal bloom start offshore from the trailer park and spread across the lake. I think the marsh is critical to counteracting the pollution and cleaning up the water but it seems to have reached its tolerance level and we have already seen a couple species of frogs disappear. (They are like the canary in the coal mine). Protecting this marsh provides cleaner water and benefits all residents including those who live further downstream all the way to the St. Lawrence River.

This zone is already marked as “Environmentally Protected” so I’m surprised that the city even entertains applications for development in this area. I have copied the conservation authority in the hopes that they will 11 support the continued protection of this area for the benefit of all Kingstonians.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Sylvia Healey

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isle of man development plan map