Puslinch Mayor Brad Whitcombe has trouble understanding the City of Guelph’s objection to the relocation of Milburn Auto Sales.
The sales and service business, currently located on Crawley Road in Guelph, has applied to rezone a property at 219 Brock Road North (County Road 46) in Puslinch to allow its relocation there.
If approved, the 1.85 hectare privately serviced lot will include a 1,000 square metre building and the outdoor display of up to 170 vehicles.
Whitcombe said he does not see the problem with the application because it meets the township’s draft design guidelines and respects policies designed to protect the Paris-Galt moraine.
But on Oct. 7, during a second public meeting on the application – the township forgot to notify the city the first time around – council reviewed correspondence from Guelph policy planner Greg Atkinson.
In his letter, Atkinson said while the city would be willing to work on a solution, its planning staff members “do not support the proposed rezoning” because:
– it is in violation of the provincial policy that prohibits urban land uses in rural areas;
– the city and county official plans prohibit new development within one kilometre of existing urban areas;
– the business does not qualify as a “small scale” commercial development that is allowed in secondary agricultural areas; and
– it is located within the Paris-Galt moraine, which plays an important role in groundwater recharge in the area.
County planner Aldo Salis acknowledged the proposed land is within 1km of the city border and would usually fall under the county’s “fringe development” guidelines.
However, Salis added the Milburn application is not a concern, and the land is already zoned commercial (it was once home to a meat and cheese operation).
Robert Milburn asked Puslinch council to defer the application, pending a meeting with city planning staff on Oct. 16.
Whitcombe expressed frustration that despite giving up 3,800 acres to Guelph in a previous annexation, the city continues to try to control far more acreage than that.
He suggested it would not be good for township-city relations – or already strained county-city relations – if the city eventually forced an Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the matter.
Councillor Matthew Bulmer agreed, saying the Guelph letter was laden with “hypocrisy” throughout.
“I’d be glad to pass [the zoning application] at the end of the day, despite what [the city] put in their letter,” Bulmer said.
Councillor Don McKay echoed that sentiment, noting he was surprised by the city’s approach.