OMB supports Murray Group’s appeal; Inverhaugh pits to open

The Ontario Muni­cipal Board has upheld a Murray Group appeal that will allow the company to develop two gravel pits near Inver­haugh.

The company appealed to the OMB because Centre Well­ington council failed to act on its applications for zoning by­law amendments that would have moved the zoning for the pits from designated agricul­tural to allow gravel extraction. The issue came to council sev­eral years ago, and it took this long to resolve it.

The lands are located at Part Lots 2 and 3 at Concession 3, east of the Grand River, and Part of Park Lots 20 and 21, Plan 140 in the former town­ship of Pilkington.

The company was seeking a zone change and licence and site plan approval for the Dev­lin pit, to be located near the east side of Inverhaugh, and similar zoning, licencing, and site plan approval for the Cole Pit, on the Inverhaven farm lands.

The original hearing was scheduled for April and ex­pec­ted to last 25 days. How­ever, the board heard at the start of that hearing that there was a possible resolution to the issue, and it adjourned until that was attempted.

The agreement includes:

– rehabilitation to ensure that the lands will be returned to agriculture;

– access to the pits provided only along County Road 21;

– agreement that tests indicate no impact to the ground or surface water;

– addressing site plan issues such as phasing, noise and dust controls, vegetation manage­ment plan, berms and tree screen­ing, a spills contingency plan, a groundwater and wells monitoring plan, and opera­tional concerns that included the type of equipment being used; and

– restricting haulage routes to certain roads.

OMB vice-chairman Jyoti Zuidema noted in her ruling that a number of people had brought concerns to the hear­ing.

She said Shaindel Zimmer­man testified that she believed wells would be contami­nated, and that trucks would discourage people from visiting shops and businesses in Elora.

Zuidema noted, though, that Zimmerman had also admitted she has no particular expertise “to address issues of trans­por­tation or hydrogeology.”

Renate Karger said she felt the pits would have a negative effect on Elora merchants, but admitted she was speaking only for herself, even though she is on the marketing committee of the Business Improvement Area.

Julie Denneny testified. She moved to the area three years ago and started a bed and break­fast.

She complained about trucks being a nuisance and a safety hazard, and she did not want them on local roads.

But Zuidema again noted Den­neny had admitted in her testimony she had not looked at the traffic reports filed for the hearing by The Mur­ray Group.

Jim Zimmerman filed a statement that he read to the hearing. Zuidema pointed out that under cross examination, he admitted he had not read the issues list that was filed for the hearing. Zuidema did not­e that Zimmerman objected to the process of the hearing.

Centre Wellington council­lor Kirk McElwain testified against the pits on his own be­half. He has declared conflicts of interest at council on the issue. He argued that approval of the pits could violate the Environmental Protection Act.

In the ruling, Zuidema stat­ed, “While the board appreci­ates the concerns of the resi­dents as voiced through the parti­cipants of this hearing, it cannot ignore the unchallenged expert evidence provided by Mr. [Rob] Stovel, which evi­dence was provided on consent of all parties to this hearing.”

Stovel is a planner.

Zuidema ruled that the pro­posal fits the provincial policy statements, conforms to the county official plan policies, “represents good planning, and is in the public interest.”

The board also ordered the township to provide the needed zoning for the pits.