Township wants more details before approving business plan

Centre Well­ington council has sent a zone change application back for more consideration after an impassioned delegation against it, followed by a series of tough questions about the proposal.

Susan Krasko, of the 5th Line of old Eramosa township, came to council May 26 and ar­gued against a zone change that would allow the repair and sale of horse trailers.

The proposal is to create a three acre parcel for the storage and disposal of horse trailers, repair of horse trailers, and sal­es of farm supplies and farm equipment such as bedding materials, fencing, and small equipment such as snow plows that are used on farms.

The applicant, Art Davis, owns the property at emer­gen­cy number 5957. It is a 100 acre parcel and he recently demolished the former house and built a new one there. He is seeking to change the agricul­tural zoning to allow com­mercial activities on the site. The plan is for a building with an area of 7,920 square feet, with the building set back from the front lot line by 240 feet. Davis wants a gravel area for employees and customer park­ing to the south of the proposed building, and a gravel area for display of new trailers in front of the building.

Krasko, who lives near to the proposed business, told council she represents the resi­dents of the road, who do not want the business there. She said most have lived there for nearly 20 years, and the rest have been there all there lives, and council is proposing to dis­rupt them for the sake of one man who moved there a year ago.

She said council should be protecting agricultural land, and the area is the focus of small farms with cattle, elk, and sheep.

“We live here to preserve the farmland.”

She said the business would mean “30 huge boxes” parked in view of the road, lots of traffic, more snow plowing and sanding, used trucks, and a yard lit up at night. She said four neighbours already have a yard light shining into their homes, and the disruption would run from Sideroad 30 to County Road 22.

She said the planner has asked Davis to plant trees if he gets the zone change, but it will take a long time for them to hide the lights.

“He was unable to turn the area into a gravel pit – so what is next?” she asked. “He is not a farmer. His cash crop supple­ments his trailer business.”

She said there will have to be an official plan change, too.

Krasko also questioned if Davis meets the criteria for a farm related business, noting he has never kept horses there, and, she added, “Farm machin­ery dealerships are plentiful. Small farms are not.”

Krasko pointed out Davis has stated he wants to retire in a few years, and she wondered why he is expanding now. She suggested he hopes to pass the business on to the next genera­tion.

She said to council, “By mak­ing one person happy, you ruin the comfort level of 30 residents forever.”

Krasko added that many in the Oustic area would likely leave if the business is approv­ed, because there is already plenty of traffic on the road, and this would make it worse.

Township planner Brett Salmon told council the county had insisted on the minimum distance separation formula be followed, and that meant re­ducing the area to be rezoned from five acres to three. He added the business would be subject to site plan approval, and the trailers being sold would be hidden by a proposed berm. And, he said, some in­dus­trial uses are already per­mitted in the area, and the county permits rural industrial and highway commercial acti­vities.

Salmon said the county did not cite provincial policy state­ments as a difficulty in this appli­cation, and county plan­ners usually consider that in their comments.

Salmon noted he did ask about having the trailers for sale parked behind the busi­ness, but Davis wants them in front.

As for light pollution, Sal­mon said the site plan usually considers that issue, and that the township’s Public Works department has no issue about traffic.

He noted Krasko’s com­plaint about possible oil spills should not be considered be­cause the floodplain of the Speed River is over 600 metres away and “well beyond the requirements.”

Salmon said the bylaw could be considered at council on June 5.

Councillor Walt Visser ask­ed if the uses are agriculturally related as required in the bylaw.

Salmon said they are re­lated, and other uses, are con­sidered secondary or ancillary uses. He explained it by noting that hairdressers have a set business, but that does not pre­vent them from selling sham­poo to customers.

As for selling agricultural machinery, Salmon cited two well known dealers, De Boer’s and Ed Stewart’s as being located in agricultural areas.

Councillor Kirk McElwain asked if there is any thought about restricting the hours of operation on weekends.

Salmon said there is no way to regulate the hours of operation in this case.

Morris asked Salmon about the traffic patterns.

Salmon admitted the road is “a bit of commuter route,” but added there is not a huge amount of traffic.

Morris asked if the pro­posed landscaping has speci­fics.

Salmon said for now the proposal can show a berm and trees, but the details will come during site plan negotiations.

“It must meet our landscape standard.”

Morris asked about lights.

Salmon said the township can demand specific lights and can seek dif­ferent ones if the applicant’s are too strong, and it can also demand shields for those lights.

Councillor Shawn Watters said it is “strange” that the ap­pli­cant does not want the sales area in the back, but will build a berm and plant trees, which keeps them invisible from the road.

Salmon explained that when customers get to a business, “the wares must be visible.”

Davis also attended the meet­ing, He said of the traffic increase that the road is due for an upgrade soon. He noted that there is already a lot of traffic, and not generated by him or his customers.

He explained it is just good practise to place the trailers at the front, where they can be seen when customers drive in.

He does not intend to have “hundreds and hundreds” as Krasko has charged, and, “We don’t take rust buckets in trade.”

As for lights, he wants enough for security.

He said the business would stop work at 5pm and any traf­fic after that might be a pick-up of a repair job. His current light is on the shed and is a 175 watt bulb.

He said on Saturday, the business would be open only from 8am to noon. “We have a life as well.”

Morris asked about noise.

Davis said there would be no more than a regular farm. “We don’t make any­thing. From November to Ap­ril, the doors are closed in the shop.

Councillor Bob Foster ask­ed if the business services the racing industry.

Davis said it does, including equestrian centres, and other breeds not involved in racing.

Foster asked if he would be selling to the racing industry.

Davis said, “Majorly,” and added he would sell to other horse breeders, too. “We sell a great variety, including farmers who haul hay.”

Foster asked what pro­portion of his business would service the racing industry.

Davis said, 35 to 40 per cent.

Visser moved to approve the application, but there was no seconder, so the motion died.

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said that meant the issue goes back to the planner for more work. Council formally agreed on that. Salmon then asked council what part of the proposal he should work on.

Morris said he is not sure all the neighbours’ concerns are be­ing addressed. He cited traffic, noise, and lights.

Foster wants Salmon to “take a closer look at the agri­culture.” He said agriculture is “the growing and raising of food. Is it farming, and farm related or is it industry?”

Salmon said he would ad­dress the question if the pro­posal is agriculturally related.

McElwain said he things the business can eventually opera­te, but he is concerned about the sales parking, the land­scap­ing, and wants more details.

Councillor Shawn Watters said a lot depends on the site plan, and added that sometimes the site plan “doesn’t go in the right direction.” He wants a greater level of detail before he approves a zone change, and agreed with McElwain that he “can live with something.”

Salmon told councillors their remarks “give me enough to work on.”

Councillor Ron Hallman was absent.