Planning departments disagree on Mapleton trucking business

MAPLETON – “I love it when planners duke it out,” township councillor Michael Martin said with a laugh during a public meeting on May 14. 

He was talking about conflicting opinions expressed by Mapleton and Wellington planners regarding a zoning application from a small trucking facility in Mapleton’s southern corner. 

The trucking business, on a one-hectare (2.5-acre) lot at 7123 Wellington Road 86, is owned by Simeon and Brenda Brubacher, who are seeking a zoning amendment to recognize the business there that has been in operation for over 20 years. 

Simeon told Mapleton council the entire trucking fleet includes seven trucks – with three or four leaving the lot each morning and returning at the end of the day.  There is also a residence on the property. 

The current property zoning permits manure trucking only, but the site has existed as a general trucking facility for decades, making it a “legal non-confirming” business, states a report from Mapleton planner Linda Redmond. 

The owners could legally continue this use indefinitely, but are seeking an amendment because they can upgrade and expand the trucking building.

They hope to add a building expansion that will bring the building from 170 square metres (1,830 square feet) to 355 square metres (3,821 square feet). 

“The facilities we have are outdated and old,” Simeon told council during the May 14 public meeting. 

No members of the public attended the meeting, but opinions from county and township staff about the request were quite different. 

From the Mapleton planning department’s perspective, there are no concerns with the application. 

Redmond’s report states Mapleton planners “were made aware that the trucking component of the business had changed from the pumping and hauling of liquid waste only to a general trucking business.”

The report recommends the site-specific zoning – historical zoning that has been in place for “many years” – be amended to “remove the provisions that the vehicles are for the pumping and hauling of liquid organic waste.”

The site use is generally the same, the report notes, “other than the contents of the trucks.” 

Wellington County’s planning department, though, does not support the amendment. 

The county permits “small-scale agricultural related businesses to serve agriculture,” county planners state.

“The proposed general trucking business does not serve agriculture and should be considered in an industrial-designated area in an urban centre.” 

The county’s roads department requested peak hourly AM and PM traffic volumes be provided “to determine if a traffic impact study is required.” 

Officials from Woolwich Township are strongly against the amendment. 

“The introduction of an industrial use in the countryside will result in the loss of tillable farmland [and] has the potential to impact the ability of surrounding farms to farm … as well as increasing urban traffic from such a use in the rural area, and given proximity will potentially increase traffic in Woolwich,” officials there stated.

“Such general industries should be directed to urban areas or settlements.” 

However, an industrial use is not being introduced – it’s already been happening for decades and, according to Mapleton planners, “the property is undersized as a farm at 2.5 acres … and is not likely to ever be returned to agricultural use.” 

“Evaluations of impacts on surrounding livestock facilities through an MDS [minimum distance separation] exercise will need to be completed prior to amending the zoning,” the planning report notes. 

Speaking with council during the meeting, Redmond acknowledged that if the owners were applying for an amendment to allow a new general trucking business the request would not be accepted. But as the trucking business already exists, “we are looking at if from a different lens,” she said. 

“It should be in an urban area – we agree with that 100 per cent,” she said. “But it’s already there, and has been for a very long time.” 

Mapleton council received the planning report as information.