A proposed student housing project along Barrie's Georgian Drive is getting mostly green lights.

No one spoke against an application to amend the zoning bylaw for 306-318 Georgian Dr. at Monday's public meeting.

“It gets away from students living in basements,” said Alex Black, who lives on Georgian Drive.

“It's not like when most of us went to school, in dilapidated houses already falling over,” said Christian Huggett of Podium Developments. “These are high-end.”

Georgian Drive Barrie Corp. wants to build five, four-storey stacked townhouse blocks, a total of 73 units and 360 bedrooms, for student housing. Most are five-bedroom units, each with private bathroom and shared living/kitchen areas.

This would be the first stage of the residential development. The second phase, at 290-304 Georgian Dr., would be 600 apartment units in two, 13-storey towers.

This application now goes to the city's planning department for a report and recommendation to Barrie councillors. It's expected back on city hall's agenda April 13 or 27. Site plan approval is still to come as well.

This 6.7-acre site is four parcels of land fronting the north side of Georgian Drive, east of the Gallie Court intersection. Its developer is asking for a project with a reduced parking standard, a reduced amenity area and increased lot coverage for a detached accessory building.

Georgian College students' interaction with east-end residents has been a contentious issue for decades in Barrie, with families living side-by-side with students, some as young as 17 and 18. This has resulted in noise, parking and property standards complaints.

A dedicated student residence would help alleviate that situation.

“The site is in proximity, about a 10-minute walk to Georgian College,” said Jamie Robinson of MHBC Planning.

Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth, who represents the east-end, has said the college area has become a near-campus neighbourhood - losing its balance of owner-occupied homes, along with its traditional mix of elderly, middle-aged and young residents. Instead, there are now mostly short-term rentals; some of the signs even say student rental housing.

The proposed new student housing development would be managed by Varsity Properties, which looks after projects in Kingston and Oshawa. It's on-site, 24-hour service. The units would have 12-month leases.

“They know how to manage students, they are aware of issues,” Huggett said of Varsity.

Georgian Drive Barrie Corp. also says 63% of 306-318 Georgian Dr. is to be given to the city as environmental protection land. It's part of a 62-acre woodlot recognized as provincially significant.

The city has received a letter from a lawyer representing Georgian Glen and Crisdawn Construction, citing a 2000 cost-sharing agreement for services in this area.

George Cameron of HGR Graham has asked that Georgian Drive Barrie Corp. contribute its fair share of these services, as a condition of site plan approval.

Robinson said the plan is to have the townhouses ready for occupancy for the 2016 school year.

“So it's a very, very tight timeline,” he said.

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