Uphill battle to build in the heritage district

A local homeowner has taken his design for a new house in historic Thornhill to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

Carmen Naccarato said he bought the property at 94 John St. back in 1996 with plans to retire there.

But residents concerned about preserving the character of the heritage district are opposed to the design he is currently proposing. This month’s hearing will mark Naccarato’s second trip to the board. His neighbour appealed after he got permission to sever the lot and build a new house on it. He won his case, but with some conditions, including that any design conform to the Thornhill-Markham Heritage Conservation District Plan.

Naccarato filed his own appeal when Markham’s committee of adjustment rejected the variances he requires to accommodate the size and setbacks of the proposed house.

He said that he consulted with heritage staff on the plans.

“All the houses in the area have one or two or three variances, minor variances,” said Naccarato. “It’s not like a subdivision where one cookie cutter fits them all.”

He said he believes his neighbours are trying to make it so difficult for him to get approvals in place that he gives up. Judith Dawson, a member of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Thornhill (SPOHT), said she would like to see Naccarato stick to the OMB’s original ruling.

Any new house should be of an appropriate size, she said. James Makaruk, a local resident and member of Heritage Markham, said he would like to see that whatever house is built on the property adheres to bylaws and the heritage plan. “These are special places that need to be carefully protected from future development in order to preserve the heritage, to preserve the historic aspect of these districts,” he said.

Coun. Valerie Burke confirmed that the town will send representation to the hearing to make sure that, should the OMB accept Naccarato’s appeal, conditions recommended by staff are tied to the approval.


Article exclusive to TRNTO