MINTO – Some local residents raised concerns about the potential impact of locating a truck and heavy equipment sales business near their residential properties at a public meeting here on June 20.
Minto council is considering a bylaw amendment to rezone a 30-hectare (74-acre) portion of an industrial property at 5924 Wellington Road 123, on the west side of Palmerston, to allow additional industrial uses.
The additional uses proposed on the front portion of the property would allow for mini storage within seacans and shipping containers and storage, sales and rental of trucks, transport trailers, seacans and shipping containers.
A severance application has been approved, with conditions, which separates an agricultural land and wooded area, located outside of the Palmerston urban area, from the industrial property subject to the proposed zoning amendment.
The subject land is within the urban boundary of the town of Palmerston as a result of a town-initiated amendment to the County of Wellington official plan in April 2021 that expanded the urban boundaries of Palmerston while reducing the urban boundaries of Harriston and Clifford.
“The lands removed from the Harriston and Clifford boundaries were lands that could not be feasibly or efficiently developed and serviced,” states a report from Minto planning coordinator Ashley Sawyer.
The rezoning is proposed by A & B Dobson Sales Ltd., a local business that has been operating in Palmerston for nearly 50 years.
The company is a used truck and heavy equipment dealer and the operation also includes the sale of sea-cans and storage containers.
Currently, the business operates out of two separate sites in Palmerston and plans to consolidate the operation on at the new location, which it purchased in January of 2021.
“This site will also provide them with additional acreage that they will require to continue to grow,” Sawyer notes in her report.
While current bylaws require a 200-metre setback area in which seacan containers can’t be stacked more than one high, Scott Patterson, of Patterson Planning Consultants said the business is seeking a shorter setback.
“What we’re suggesting for council’s consideration is that from … 50 meters into the property ahead of that towards Wellington Road 123 we can have containers stacked one-high … going backwards from 50 to 200 metres two high and then beyond the 200 meters basically three-high or whatever is needed to accommodate the storage of seacans,” he explained.
“The advantage of stacking them is that we can display them. If we’re forced to put them all at a single level, they’ll take up an exorbitant amount of land.”
Patterson pointed out a noise study resulted in a recommended four-metre high berm along residential areas.
“We’ve confirmed through our civil engineers that there is an abundance of topsoil on site. We have no concerns with constructing the berm, there’ll be ample material to do that,” Patterson stated.
“And I believe Mr. Dobson intends to provide trees and other things on the berm as well.”
“The trees we plan on planting are not little sticks. We have a tree farm that we’re going to be harvesting the trees out of. They will probably be five to eight feet tall for the most part,” noted business owner Mike Dobson.
Neighbouring resident Brian Zabel said he has concerns about the proposal.
“This could have a huge impact on our property and lifestyle. We’re concerned with industrial land being so close to our residence” said Zabel,
“Industrial land brings negative impacts such as noise, lights, pollution, obstruction of use, odours, dust and increased traffic.”
Zabel pointed out local residents have already experienced such impacts from the nearby Palmerston Industrial Park.
“We’d like to know what will be done to mitigate any impact these factors may have on us, as well as how the decreased property values (caused by) living so close to industrial area will be addressed,” he said, adding, “definitely the berm would help, with trees.”
Zabel also noted he is not in favour of reducing restrictions on stacking seacans.
“We would like to see the 200-metre current bylaw be imposed from not only Wellington 123, but from Highway 23 and to have a limit on how high they can be stacked,” on the northern portion of the property, he told council.
Light pollution was another concern for Zabel, who noted, “there is a lot of glare on our property,” from the existing industrial park.
“Companies should be using Dark Sky compliant lighting … that would be a big ask for us,” said Zabel.
The International Dark Sky Association recommends lighting that has a colour temperature of no more than 3000 Kelvins.
“From our point of view, there’s big winners and losers in this,” said Zabel.
“I think that the town and county wins in an increased tax base and development fees. Dobsons obviously can grow their business, consolidate things; but for the residential properties, it’s a loss. It’s plain and simple.
“It’s a drastic decrease in property values. So while other parties are gaining economically from this, we’re losing and I’d like everybody to keep that in mind.”
Sheri Schiestel, another nearby property owner, echoed Zabel’s concerns in a letter to council.
“What will be done to rectify the fact my property value will be decreased? … My land taxes are extremely high and yet my property value will be decreasing,” she pointed out.
Dr. Kathryn Alton, who operates Palmerston Optometry Clinic on a property beside the subject lands, said she would like to see trees, rather than a fence, used to separate the properties.
“I would thoroughly appreciate trees, because I think that’s just a much nicer and kind of more nature-focused property divide for us.”
As she doesn’t live on the clinic property, Alton said she is “neutral” on the issue of stacking seacans.
Councillor Ron Elliott asked if the business would be operating after 5pm.
“In general, we work eight to five, Monday to Friday,” said Dobson.
“There’s the odd time that a truck comes in later and we’ve got to do something, but most of the time it’s pretty quiet after five.”
Dobson said he does not anticipate the operation generating high noise volumes.
“It’s a parking lot, so it’s not going to be terribly noisy. There’s not trucks roaring around every day, all day,” he noted.
Councillor Geoff Gunson inquired about plans for lighting on the property.
“Is there just to be lighting near the front, near (Wellington Road) 123?” he asked.
“At this time there, I have no plans for lighting at all, except what’s existing,” said Dobson.
A one-storey dwelling and a shed are currently located on the property and the owners indicate they plan to leave the structures in place.
In response to a question from councillor Judy Dirkson, Dobson explained the business had initially considered relocating to a different Palmerston-area property.
In a presentation to council in February of 202o, Dobson sought council’s support for rezoning a property east of Palmerston, also on Highway 123, which he was considering purchasing.
“I got a random phone call about buying the property when I was in the middle of discussions with somebody else on a different property,” said Dobson.
“When you purchased that property, was there any question about what you would be using it for?” asked Dirksen.
“No, I purchased it for this exact thing,” Dobson replied.
“Your main corporate office is going to stay downtown and you’ll not be adding buildings, as it is right now, on the on the new property?” asked Mayor Dave Turton.
“As of right now, the Main Street building operation is staying there. Some more of the truck sales are probably going to venture out to the property here for highway exposure, better display,” replied Dobson.
“Potentially in the future, the house existing there may become an office. But at this time, we have no plans to do any building.”
Turton asked director of building and planning services Terry Kuipers to address the idea of residential property losing value when industrial uses are added nearby.
“I know that we have discussions and people bring that up,” the mayor noted.
“There’s no definitive study that I’m aware of … I don’t know what study we could request to establish an impact one way or the other on property values,” replied Kuipers
“I could make that really quick. Would any of you like an industrial park 10 feet away from your residence? And how would that impact a property that you would purchase?” said Zabel.
“I’m not sure if there is an answer for that, but we can certainly talk about it,” said Turton.
Council members suggested staff consider the landowner’s request for reduced setback restrictions on seacan placement and stacking when drafting a bylaw for consideration at a future meeting.