Guelph-Eramosa councillors expressed concern on Monday night when informed of a private proposal to annex 15 acres of land to the City of Guelph.
“Annexation is sort of one of those words that makes my skin crawl,” said councillor Doug Breen.
Woodland Properties Ltd, of Guelph, has requested the township annex to the city an irregularly-shaped, 15-acre piece of land at the edge of the township, in an area bordered by Whitelaw Road to the west, Fife Road to the north and a CN railway line to the east.
The land was once part of a larger farm, pieces of which were previously annexed by the city in the late 1960s or early 1970s to make room for residential developments.
The property was later mined to provide fill for the overpass at Hanlon Boulevard and Highway 24, and in 2006, Woodland Properties tried to rehabilitate the land with limited success.
“Today the land is again abandoned, has limited agriculture use, and should be annexed,” John Wood, president of Woodland Properties, said in a letter to council.
But councillors were not convinced.
“We really don’t want to do anything to compromise our industrial land,” Breen said.
He added if the city plans to use the land for housing, it will be a problem.
Wood’s letter, however, indicates the land will house a seniors’ home and a church, “both of which are experiencing difficulty finding a home in Guelph.”
His company has two preliminary offers for the land, each with a sizeable deposit – one for a five acre parcel on the east side of a proposed Elmira Road extension, and one for 7.5 acres on the west side, between Elmira Road and Whitelaw Road.
Given the prospective new owners of the land, Wood concluded the annexation is “in the best interest of both the city and the township.”
Yet councillor Reta Moyer said she, too, is worried about the proposal.
“My concern is its chipping away and chipping away and chipping away at the size of the township,” Moyer said.
“We need to be careful and make sure it’s not a piece of land that will be valuable to us in the future – or even valuable to us now.”
Mayor Chris White said the township should first get the necessary technical inform-ation and meet with city, county, and Woodland officials to see if the move is even feasible.
Council unanimously passed a resolution to that effect. Councillors Roger Knapp and John Scott were absent.