Council considers rezoning to facilitate farm equipment manufacturing/sales facility

MAPLETON – Township council will consider a bylaw at an upcoming meeting to rezone a nearly five-acre parcel of land to allow the construction of a new 26,000 square foot facility for the sale and manufacturing of farm equipment.

A public meeting was held on April 13 via videoconference on the proposal to rezone a portion of the property on Wellington Road 9 from agricultural to agricultural commercial.

Brian Gibson, the agent for applicants Mervin and Diane Behringer, explained the company is currently fabricating large agricultural dump trailers from a smaller facility nearby.

“They are large pieces of equipment that require a large building and a large space outdoors to manoeuvre,” said Gibson.

He explained the company has outgrown its existing location “so they’re just trying to get a proper set up where they can operate the business properly.”

County planner Matthieu Daoust pointed out the township’s zoning bylaw requires agricultural commercial operations to be at least 400 feet from the nearest residence.

However, there is an existing residence about 240 feet from the proposed location.

“Planning staff are working with the applicants’ agent to review potential options with regard to layout, as well as landscaping and buffering, to address that issue,” Daoust explained.

He noted the neighbouring property owners and the Behringers are “good neighbours” and “everybody’s kind of happy to come up with a solution there.”

Councillor Dennis Craven asked how many people would be employed at the proposed facility.

“I think they currently have about half a dozen to 10 people,” said Gibson.

“The design of the facility is being set up for 35 to 40 people, so that’s what he’s hoping to turn the business into.”

Councillor Marlene Ottens asked if that many employees are permitted within on-farm businesses of this nature.

“I thought here was a cap,” said Ottens.

Daoust explained the proposed zoning change would allow a full agricultural commercial operation which, unlike an agriculture-related on-farm diversified use, “doesn’t have a cap on employees.”

He added said county staff will prepare a final planning recommendation and a draft zoning bylaw for council’s consideration after meeting with the applicant to address the setback and compatibility of the proposed use.

No members of the public spoke for or against the proposal at the meeting.

Clerk Larry Wheeler noted no negative comments were received from Wellington Source Water Protection, the Grand River Conservation Authority or neighbouring residents in advance of the meeting.