Council here has removed a holding designation on a Moorefield property to allow a small residential development to move forward – though it was not a unanimous decision.
Councillor Jim Curry told council at its last meeting in May the township’s current wastewater situation should be addressed before developers are allowed to start construction on the 1.2-acre property on Caroline Street.
“I think we should have it on hold,” Curry said.
Curry had previously expressed concern that although the township was granted increased wastewater capacity by the Ministry of the Environment, it was denied a spring discharge, so he was opposed to immediately approving the development by DeKoning Brothers Inc.
But Mayor John Green cited a recent discussion with Ron DeKoning, who told council his company would like to start building soon, but just one or two units, for which they would not need servicing until at least later in the summer.
The wastewater issues should be addressed by then, Green said.
“I’d rather not pre-judge that,” Curry replied, adding he prefers to keep the “hold” designation on the property and remove it later, once the situation is addressed.
Clerk Patty Sinnamon said even at the current receiving capacity of 750 cubic metres per day – the township has applied for 950 cubic metres – Mapleton has enough capacity for 200 more units.
But Curry said he is not in favour of allowing the eight-unit (four semi-detached homes) development to proceed until the “operational issue” is settled. He noted there are other construction projects already slated to connect to the wastewater system, but he feels this one is different.
“I certainly can’t support it,” he said. “We’re clearly creating new lots.”
Councillor Dennis Craven said he had no problem with removing the holding symbol because the township has the sewage capacity.
Councillor Bruce Whale said he understands Curry’s concern but he is confident the township will have the issue addressed before the new units require servicing.
Councillor Mike Downey agreed.
He said he would hate to be the developer and make the construction investment only to be told the units could not be connected to the township’s system.
Green cautioned Curry to not confuse capacity with operational issues.
A bylaw approving the removal of the hold on the property was approved by council, with only Curry opposed.
For several days last month the township conducted an emergency discharge at its wastewater treatment plant.
Mapleton Township is permitted to discharge between March 1 and April 15, but this year it failed to meet the discharge criteria of the Ministry of the Environment.
Clerk Patty Sinnamon said in an interview on Monday the problem was the past winter was so severe it left an unusual amount of ice on the lagoon, which caused abnormally high levels of phosphorous and ammonia.
“The lagoon was absolutely full,” Sinnamon said. “It got to the point that the integrity of the lagoon cells were compromised.” She explained that there was some very minor leakage due to the cells being at full capacity, but, if not fixed, the problem could have led to a major leak of untreated wastewater.
So as a “safety precaution,”on May 15 and over the next several days, the township released treated wastewater into the Conestogo River. The township also made arrangements to have a portion of the untreated wastewater hauled to another municipality to maintain the integrity of the lagoon cells.
“The Township of Mapleton wants to assure both its own residents and residents downstream of the Conestogo River that there is no risk to human health,” stated a press release from the township.
That document, although posted on the township’s website, was not received by The Community News until this week. There was an error either sending or receiving the email.