KENILWORTH – Maple Lane Farm Service is looking to double the size of its operation in a new 109,792-square-foot facility at the corner of Highway 6 and Sideroad 3, between Mount Forest and Riverstown.
The move would require rezoning prime farmland currently being cropped there, and paving over around 25 acres of crops – possibly more in later years.
Wellington Federation of Agriculture past president Janet Harrop raised concerns at a Jan. 29 public meeting about the size of the proposed development, calling it “somewhat excessive.”
“We’re just always recognizing how valuable our prime agricultural land is,” Harrop said.
“We just have to be cognizant and always think twice about paving over agricultural land.”
Others at the meeting, including a resident and councillors, expressed concern with the amount of farmland that would be lost to the business.
And what of their current Concession 6 North property, east of Mount Forest, and the two-level 50,000 square-foot building there?
A total of around 50 acres is up for rezoning to accommodate the new Maple Lane location; half of that would be for a first-phase expansion, with the remaining half left as crops until the time comes for a second-phase expansion.
Land planning consultant Chris Corosky spoke on behalf the zoning applicants Gwen and Donald Cormack.
Corosky said more space is needed for the growing business, which has served the agricultural community here and beyond since the 1980s.
“If it wasn’t this site, it would be another agricultural site,” Corosky said, explaining that’s the land around Wellington North, and the proposed location is “perfect” given its access and visibility.
The owners want to stay here, he said, and around 50 people are employed, many from the township.
Business partner Harvey Bowman said he lies awake contemplating what should be done with the Concession 6 property should the new location be opened.
“Honestly, I don’t know what is best,” he said. It could be sold, it could be returned to farming.
With the public meeting concluded, Wellington County planning staff, which provide planning consultation for the township, will later submit a bylaw to make the land rezoning official.
Once the bylaw is approved by council the site plan approval process follows, with more detailed designs presented to township staff.