Puslinch discusses zoning bylaw amendment, garden suite at public meetings

PUSLINCH – Recently, council here held two virtual public meetings that fostered no objections from the public or council.

Gallo Contracting Limited

One of the public meetings on Aug. 12 addressed a zoning bylaw amendment at 4010 Concession 7 in Puslinch. The public meeting was originally scheduled about the time COVID-19 closed down the province.

Gallo Contracting Limited is requesting to amend the agriculture “A” zone to establish a site-specific zone provision that will allow the existing business, including accessory outdoor storage. The amendment also asked to extend the existing natural environment (NE) zone to protect and restrict development within and adjacent to the existing natural features on the lands. The property is about 9 hectares (21 acres).

“The purpose of this application is to legalize an existing use,” said Neal DeRuyter, planner with MHBC Planning and representing Gallo Contacting Limited. The business has been on site for 25 years and there are two employees with limited activity on a daily basis.

The business installs composite mats that allow heavy equipment access to sites over sensitive lands. The use of the mats minimizes damage to the surface and soil disturbance.

The site in question on Concession 7 stores these mats and construction equipment. There is also a maintenance garage, dwelling and office. However, no manufacturing or processing occurs on site.

“This is not an application to expand or intensify the use,” DeRuyter said. “It’s simply to legalize the use as it currently exists under the new zoning bylaw in the agricultural zone.

“The idea of this application is that it legalizes what’s there and then sets out some additional parameters like outdoor storage and where these uses can be located on the property.”

The agriculture “A” zone does not permit the business use; however, the site was once a gravel pit in the 1980s, which resulted in steep slopes along most of the site’s boundaries, said Wellington County senior planner Meagan Ferris in a report to Puslinch. The business is operating on the former gravel pit floor.

“There’s quite a grade difference so when you’re standing at the entrance from Concession Road 7 you don’t see the buildings,” DeRuyter said.

One change to be made to the property is a result of a violation notice from the Hamilton Conservation Authority.

DeRuyter said development was occurring in a drip line, which is a regulated area, without conservation authority permission.

Gallo has since come to an agreement with Hamilton Conservation Authority and all the area that was stripped or was the location of storage within 30m of the drip line will be removed and Gallo will restore the area.

“The bottom line, so council is aware, in our opinion the proposed amendment conforms with the provincial policy statement, the growth plan, the greenbelt plan and the county’s official plan,” DeRuyter said.

He also said that the site is not a prime agricultural area and there are no agricultural uses on the site or the immediate area

“From the county official plan perspective this is a site that’s designated secondary agriculture and secondary agriculture has specific permissions that allow uses like this,” he said. “So from the perspective of the provincial policies in the county official plan the use is permitted and in our opinion the proposed amendment conforms with those policies.”

The township has received five letters in support from neighbours and one person spoke in favour at the public meeting.

“From our perspective there really are no issues from a land-use compatibility perspective,” DeRuyter said. “There’s support from neighbours with no concerns expressed by agencies to date that we are aware of.”

He did say he thought site plan control was not necessary for this site.

“From our perspective applying site plan control retroactively is an unnecessary burden,” he said. “And I say that from the perspective of the costs to go through it for my client but more importantly the structures that are already in place already have building permits when the use was known.

“So from my perspective to apply site plan control for something that’s already there and built is somewhat unusual.”

No councillors had any questions of clarification. A decision will be made at a future meeting

Garden suite

The other public meeting involved an application by Paul and Susan Course to allow for a garden suite at 7677 Wellington Road 36 in Puslinch. The property is 0.8 hectares (1.98 acres) and contains a single detached dwelling and a detached garage.

“The application was very simple,” Susan said. “We applied for the re-zoning to install a temporary garden suite for our son and daughter-in-law.”

The garden suite would be permitted for 20 years and would use the existing well and septic on site.

No one spoke in favour or against the application at the meeting. A decision will be made at a future meeting.