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Solmar application deemed complete despite remaining questions

by Mike Robinson

ERIN

In the shadow of a threat of an OMB appeal and legal opinions offered during a lengthy in-camera session, councillors here have deemed Solmar Development’s application as complete.

The proposed development at the north end of Erin village would effectively double the population of the community when completed.

Maurizio Rogato, of Solmar Development Corp., and James Kennedy of KLM Planning were before council on Nov. 20.

Rogato noted that it was Kennedy who filed the official plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendments that were the subject of a planning report to the municipality.

“Solmar has been very forthcoming in the past in two council presentations and one voluntary public meeting,” Rogato said. “We were very clear in wanting to present a complete application. We believe we have done so and want to work concurrent with Erin’s SSMP (Servicing and Settlement Master Plan).”

Rogato stressed “we are not here to circumvent the SSMP or to predetermine the SSMP.” He also said “it is in the public interest to declare these applications complete.”

Rogato and Kennedy commented on a report from planner Sally Stull that recommended no further review happen until the SSMP is complete.

“Regrettably, Solmar does not concur with the planner’s report recommendations,” said Rogato. “We are of the opinion that the applications should be deemed complete and are in fact complete.”

“To be clear, we are not looking for a decision on the applications tonight, we’re simply looking for a statement that the applications are complete.”

Kennedy noted the numerous reports submitted by the company address various county requirements and those under the Planning Act.

“We are keenly aware there is no (wastewater) servicing in Erin,” Kennedy said. He added it  his understanding the SSMP is to be completed early in 2013 and he noted a development of Solmar’s scale requires full water and waste services.

“Obviously there is no question that these lands will be serviced. They will have municipal services,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy said Solmar attempted to pre-consult with Stull and asked if further studies were required, and to his knowledge there was no response.

“There was more than ample opportunity to offer comment or request additional information other than what is prescribed under the Planning Act,” Kennedy said, noting Solmar would have met all requests.

Kennedy stressed “These applications are only the start of the process and it will be a long time before any development is permitted. These lands will be serviced with full municipal services or they won’t be developed.”

Kennedy added, “Should council deem these applications as incomplete, Solmar will appeal this decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, which will cost the town time and money.”

Kennedy said Solmar would prefer not to take that approach and he believes the company is making a reasonable request.

He noted the town should engage Solmar and its consultants in the SSMP process, adding, “If and when this development does proceed, it will generate millions of dollars for the town as well as a new, fully-serviced business park to attract new jobs to the area.”

Rogato said this was a relatively simple matter - “whether or not the applications submitted by Solmar are deemed complete. We’ve expressed our willingness to work cooperatively with the SSMP process.”

He added Wellington County has deemed the application complete.

Councillor John Brennan said now that the SSMP appears to be in the homestretch, he wondered what the downside was to waiting a bit longer.

Kennedy said there is a lot of valuable information within the Solmar reports. Rogato pointed out there are many parts of the report that have nothing to do with the SSMP, such as traffic studies and community elements, where reviews could begin.

“In our minds, there is no reason not to proceed,” Rogato reiterated.

Mayor Lou Maieron said when the SSMP is complete in early 2013 it will suggest how to move forward. He said after spending more than $400,000, nothing may happen, or the town may go forward with servicing.

“Decisions would come down to what type of service, but where is the money coming from?” Maieron said.

He explained Erin is one of the largest municipalities in Ontario without adequate sewage services for its residents.

That means council will either say Solmar can build a sewage treatment plant for its 1,000 homes not connected to the community and the town might build elsewhere.

Or, the town could work concurrently with Solmar, to phase in existing housing within a modular plant.

Maieron said he was not trying to take sides with the developer, but said that working concurrently might make sense in trying to reach current municipal standards.

However, he said deeming the application as complete triggers a 180-day process in which to deal with the application.

Stull was concerned with the idea of the reports being deemed complete without the opportunity to fully review them.

In terms of the official plan, she said there are certain policies regarding significant development proposals. Because of her other workload, Stull said she has not had time to evaluate the reports.

“My concern is that there is a significant proposal before us tonight which has implications on the town fiscally, on traffic and on capacity,” said Stull.

She said there is no significant information currently regarding wells, and no definitive information on servicing.

Stull said it is difficult to review a file when the technical information regarding water and wastewater have not been provided - “and cannot be provided.”

She added there are other developers who have been patiently awaiting the outcome of the SSMP. Stull also noted that if there is an aggressive build-out of this project, the town will exceed its projected growth, which in turn will affect a wide range of factors, including impacts to local schools.

She also believed the idea of an Erin traffic bypass may also need to be considered.

As a planner, Stull said, “It is difficult to provide opinions on a development which far exceeds the community growth forecasts with no indication of servicing.”

Council went in-camera  with its solicitor for nearly 90 minutes following Solmar’s presentation  while members of the public waited for additional discussion.

Discussion moved directly to the planners report.

Stull said the proposal includes 1,240 residential units plus associated employment lands. With regard to the application, Stull said while significant reports were provided, there are gaps and holes - specifically in regards to servicing.

She said it remains a concern because there is no information as to where water or sewage would be going.

She also stated that in 2007, council passed a resolution stating it would defer decisions regarding plans of subdivision until directions for servicing is provided by the SSMP.

“I am concerned on the impact to other developers since  ... the growth forecast allows for 500 units. This proposal alone allows for 1,240.”

She said this would essentially exclude any more development other than within the built boundaries of Erin. She believed this also detracts from the SSMP process.

Stull considers the Solmar application is incomplete. She said council could deem the application complete, but she contended it distracted from a clear picture regarding the town’s future servicing plans.

Maieron then reported from the earlier closed session stating that based on information provided by the town’s solicitor, there was a motion before council to accept Solmar’s application as complete.

However, Maieron added the application will not be approved until after the SSMP is complete and council is  satisfied with the detail of information provided within the documentation, including that relating to water, sewage, transportation and growth planning.

Council approved the decision unanimously.

Vol 45 Issue 48

November 30, 2012

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