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Council may face OMB hearing after 3-2 vote on official plan amendment

by David Meyer

MAPLETON TWP. - Council here voted 3-2 on Sept. 27 to approve an official plan amendment that was opposed by the developer of the property.

In an interview last week, Richard Seibel, vice president of The Murray Group, said the company is still considering if it will appeal council’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

At issue is council’s approval for a greenlands designation on land The Murray Group owns at the northern part of Moorefield.

The property is 11.6 acres in size and has frontage on McGivern Street. It is Part of Park Lot 58,  Moore’s Survey, East 1/2 Lot 9, Concession 9.

The subdivision had been partly industrial, and the official plan amendment originally was to redesignate the lands for residential use.

However, county planner Linda Redmond and Seibel disagreed about the designation of the greenlands. There were two parcels Redmond originally wanted to be desingated greenlands and Seibel opposed that.

When the original amendment was circulated, the Grand River Conservation Area had no objections to The Murray Group proposal. And after the greenlands designation was inserted, the GRCA again stated it had no objections.

Seibel told council the issue was delayed because council wanted a better description of the two forested areas. A report by forester Peter Williams stated one of those was insignificant, but the other is worth preserving.

But, as Seibel told council, the official plan amendment being presented by Redmond is “not what The Murray Group proposed.” He also stated preserving such woodlots is not yet firm county policy and, further, he checked and learned the policy has not even been circulated for public comment.

Redmond agreed and said, “I don’t know where they are in the process. It’s certainly not approved at this point.”

Seibel said the county “seems to be suggesting guidelines that have not been circulated yet.” At a previous OMB hearing on the issue, the township had agreed only to review the proposal, he added.

“If the township had been negotiating in good faith, it would never have put the greenlands [designation] in,” Seibel said.

Keeping the two stands of trees would removed 4.8 acres from the potential of the development. Redmond’s final recommendation, with one stand of trees removed from consideration, reduced that to 4 acres.

Seibel said the company had not planned to cut down the trees, but to use them as an amenity for larger lots with the tree stands in the back yards,

“It’s not even policy in Wellington County,” he said in the later interview. “It hasn’t been made public. They just decided to.”

He said the result was unilaterally changing the official plan “on land we have desigated industrial.” He said he expected the move will cost the subdivision about 16 homes.

At Wellington County council two days later, council simply accepted Redmond’s report as information and did not deal with it any further.

At Mapleton, when it came time to consider the official plan as presented by Redmond, councillors Andy Knetsch and Mike Downey were in favour, and councillors Jim Curry and Neil Driscoll were opposed.

Mayor Bruce Whale broke the tie by voting in favour of it.

 

 

October 14, 2011

 
 

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