Council denies rezoning for home on family’s land in Arthur

Mayor, councillors want higher density housing

KENILWORTH – Wellington North council voted against rezoning land in the northern reaches of Arthur to permit the construction of a home, with Mayor Andy Lennox voicing several concerns with the proposal during a recent public meeting.

Council’s denial means listed applicants Paul and Wendy Levine, and Perry Levine and Lindsay Ellis, can’t move forward with plans for a home on the property.

Rezoning of the land from its current future development to site-specific future development was a condition attached to a severance request, approved by the county’s land division committee last summer.

The severance would have divided three acres of vacant land from 42.5 acres currently used for crops. The three-acre portion lies at the farthest northern tip of Arthur’s urban boundary, and is separated by water, trees and rough land.

Ben Kissner, a resource planner with the Grand River Conservation Authority, submitted comments to the township on the application as part of the current planning process in Ontario, finding no issue with the proposal.

“It’s always going to be separated,” Paul Levine said at a Dec. 19 public meeting, referring to the natural separation between the cultivated land.

“It’s basically a piece of family property; it’s been in our family for 50 years,” he said.

The applicants proposed to put the home on a private well, contrary to urban boundary planning policy suggesting private servicing “only be used for infilling and minor rounding out of existing development.”

However, private wells are considered appropriate when it’s unreasonable to anticipate servicing in the near future — as is the case with this particular land.

Levine also said surrounding neighbours voiced no concern with their plan.

Lennox asked county planner Matthieu Daoust and township building official Darren Jones about the minimum separation distances between buildings and different land uses often required in planning.

But chiefly, the mayor’s concerns focused on higher density housing. Lennox suggested residential development be a “much higher density than this” and said the lot was too big for a single family home in the urban centre.

County development planning manager Curtis Marshall spoke at the meeting, saying the same concern was also raised at the county committee meeting.

“However the application has been approved,” Marshall said. “Now we’re dealing with the zoning … to permit the dwelling on private services.” 

“I’m just having trouble reconciling the uses that would be there today and in the future in that location,” Lennox said.

The mayor also suggested a private well could affect a potential well site being explored on township land at the unopened roads of Wells Street and McCauley Road, less than a kilometre north of Domville Street, and vice versa — that a future municipal well may affect a private one in close proximity.

Township operations manager Matthew Aston said there wasn’t likely to be disruption.

“The applicant is agreeable that the township’s engineer can be involved with how their new well is constructed and that will further mitigate the risk around that,” Aston told Lennox as Ellis and Levine nodded.

“I don’t think the risk is great,” Aston added.

Raymond Petersen of Wellington North Power wrote to the township that the property is in the extremity of its service territory, “a significant span from our last services,” and suggested the property be zoned for higher density development.

Ward 2 councillor Sherry Burke acknowledged the desire for a home, but said because of the urban boundary, “I think it should be a higher density on that property.”

“We just had a lengthy conversation … where we’re asking for higher density and this doesn’t meet that requirement,” Burke said.

The rezoning bylaw was defeated in a 4-1 vote with only councillor Steve McCabe, who represents Ward 4 where the land sits, voting in favour.