Council approves Ghent pit rezoning; Applicant not happy with road use agreement

Wellington North council has approved the zoning amendment for the Ghent gravel pit application from H. Bye Construction.
On Jan. 11, all councillors except Sherry Burke voted in favour of the zoning bylaw after a discussion that lasted almost two hours.
However, council placed a holding provision on the amendment that requires H. Bye to sign a road use agreement with the municipality.
Until that hold has been lifted by approval of the agreement, the pit operator cannot go forward with the aggregate licence for the property on Concession 4 North near Highway 89.
CAO Michael Givens originally suggested council defer the decision until the township’s lawyer reviewed changes to the road use agreement discussed that night, but councillors seemed to want to move forward.
“We’ve been dealing with a fairly emotional issue over the last number of months, ultimately this issue will end up at the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board),” said councillor Dan Yake.
“I think that’s where it’s headed and I think we need to make a decision, we need to vote on it and let it go to the OMB if that’s the process that it’s going to take.”
Council also listened to delegations from three opponents and from Genevieve Scott, a consultant for H. Bye.
Wellington County planner Linda Redmond said the official plan amendment approved by county council in November was appealed, so that matter would end up at an OMB hearing.
Redmond recommended in June that council sign an agreement with H. Bye for inspections of Concession 4N, in regard to road repairs and dust mitigation.
Givens presented the agreement at Monday night’s meeting. It will be passed on to the township lawyer then given to H. Bye for review. The agreement is not final until both parties sign it.
In his report, Givens noted the key components being:
– H. Bye offered $25,000 to be utilized at the township’s discretion;
– H. Bye will be responsible for any installation of any culvert, construction and maintenance of its entrance to the pit;
– H. Bye be responsible for the installation of guide rails on Reidy Bridge;
– H. Bye will be responsible for an eastbound right-turn taper lane on Highway 89;
– H. Bye agrees to comply with seasonal half load restrictions; and
– H. Bye will ensure its drivers are educated on protocol for horse and buggy traffic.
Givens also cautioned council, saying, “this would be the first type of agreement that we have entered into with any gravel pit in the municipality.
“I know council is taking it seriously, but obviously it’s setting a precedent for any future applications and we need to be aware of that in the agreement itself.”
Givens also told council there is another gravel pit application in the works for the same area.
Mayor Andy Lennox opened the discussion by saying money the township receives from gravel pits is “minimal, so it is difficult to maintain additional costs on our roads for those types of things, plus the taxation on gravel pits seems a little out of whack with the value generated from them,” said Lennox.
“It is an imperfect solution … but I think in order to protect the public’s interest we have to try to do something and work with the applicant to try to get some resources to put toward that ongoing maintenance of the road.”
Four amendments
Council collectively made four changes to the road agreement.
Yake asked to remove all conditions over which the Ministry of Transportation has jurisdiction. This included the taper lane and any signage for Highway 89. Council agreed.
Yake also asked for a change to the responsibility for the installation of guide rails on Reidy Bridge.
“It was a deficiency already on our road … the township needs to participate in the contribution of that,” he said.
Again council agreed, amending the agreement to be a shared cost between H. Bye and the municipality, if it decides to go forward with the rails, based on the approved tonnage rate in the aggregate licence.
Burke said H. Bye’s contribution of $25,000 will not stretch very far for road maintenance.
“We’ve hashed through the budget, and we continue to hash through the budget and we know $25,000 doesn’t go very far when it comes to upgrades and maintenance of roads,” she said.
Burke also wanted to see H. Bye cover the costs associated with implementing a school zone and four-way stop at Sideroad 3 and Concession 4N, as suggested by concerned citizen Brett McHugh during delegations.
“We need to make sure we sort of get this right because we have another one coming … for good faith and to appease the residents out there, these things need to be addressed,” she said.
The area in question is not part of H. Bye’s haul route, so council decided to leave that issue out of the agreement, but Burke said it will need to be addressed in the future.
The third amendment to the agreement was raised by councillor Steve McCabe, who wanted the road to be paved.
“I’ve got to harp on the maintenance of the road again.

How do we build that into this agreement?” McCabe asked.

Lennox  said, “I think that’s a wonderful idea, I’m not sure how enforceable it is, and the second issue is that I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to put this in on this stage.

“I think if we were to implement a policy like that it would have to be before an application arrives, because that’s hardly fair to the applicant to impose new standards partway through the process.”

That’s when the council meeting got somewhat heated.  

“It’s not fair to the taxpayers either,” said McCabe.

Yake agreed with Lennox, saying, “We’ll just have to be a little more diligent and making sure we pay more attention to it. If at some point we deem it necessary to pave it, so be it.”

“I don’t know how you can just say that, ‘we’ll look at it’ … after the road’s gone to hell?” McCabe retorted.  

However, Yake said this was not the only road that has gone to hell, “and we haven’t done nothing about it.”

McCabe asked for an amendment in order to set a precedent that any future pits in the township have to be on a paved road.

Burke agreed with McCabe saying, “If that road was paved, it would alleviate a lot of the other concerns that the residents feel they still have and have not been addressed.

“I appreciate (Lennox’s) comment that it’s not necessarily fair to change the rules partway though the game but, in my opinion, there’s going to be a lot of congestion out there because we know the Weber pit is coming and its going to be on the same haul route.”

Lennox said, “I think it’s very difficult for us to, after the fact, as I alluded to, impose costs that were not governed by policy previously, on the applicant exclusively – not given the fact that it is our road and there’s some certain responsibility on us as the road authority.”

Councillor Lisa Hern was the swing vote to approve the amendment to have H. Bye cover costs for paving Concession 4N, while Lennox and Yake were opposed.

The last change to the agreement was to remove the $25,000 lump sum, because the township is clarifying what it is requesting.

Randy Bye, from H. Bye, asked council, “We’ve gone from a $25,000 agreement … now we’re going to spend $400,000 to asphalt the road, which you guys have to make yourselves responsible to do –  how did that happen in 15 minutes?

“That just blows me right out of the water, I don’t get it. Should we not be forwarded comments again?”

Givens explained to Bye that the company did, in fact, have opportunity for comments.

“You guys can comment, you can put [the agreement] in the trash, you can send it back signed, that would be your option as the applicant,” Givens said.

Council passed the resolution to receive the full agreement with the amendments, to forward it to the Wellington North’s lawyer and to send it to H. Bye Construction for review.