EVE-LYNN SWAN The Standard
UXBRIDGE: After months of letter writing, delegations and informal input from residents, Uxbridge Council voted in favour of an agricultural zoning by-law amendment at a special meeting held at the Uxbridge arena on Monday night. Once the many holding provisions, set by Council as they tried to ease neighbour's concerns are satisfied, a dry grain processing plant will be allowed.
"There's a lot to be done," said Kresho Petrovich, of Grainboys Holdings, following the vote. His family's business made the request to add agriculture-related uses to the Rural (RU) Zone classified land. Monday's decision changed the classification to Holding Rural Exception Zone for the Highway 47 property.
Over 100 people attended the meeting, which featured a delegation from, Uxbridge farmers Howie and Gerrit Herrema, and Scugog farmer Zac Cohoon, who represented the Durham Region Federation of Agriculture. Ward 1 Councillor Pamela Beach excused herself from the meeting, because of perceived conflicts of interest related her family's farm business.
Residents opposing the grain plant did not apply to speak, but shouted questions and comments at Council, Uxbridge planning consultant Liz Howson, and Fire Chief Phil Alexander.
Mayor Barton reminded the audience Council had listened to multiple deputations and "Mr. Richter has been in three times. He has spoken to us for about an hour. Our policy states, that if you want to speak at a council meeting, you put in a deputation request... that's how the system works."
Individuals opposed to the project's location and appearance formed an association. They set up a website, social media and a funding campaign in anticipation of a legal battle. When asked about an appeal to Ontario's Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), Association President Conrad Richter said "there's an awful lot of, talk about it."
Earlier in the evening, Mayor Barton told the crowd, "We listened very carefully to the letters we received. Thanks Mr. O'Leary, for your correspondence. We appreciate it. And because of what we received from you, we're making a suggestion to our planner for a by-law."
Regional Councillor Cord Highet then read the changes into the record, and Council approved revisions relating to weed control, fire safety, and the appearance of the site and buildings.
Grainboys Holdings Inc. proposal included a processing plant featuring a mill, blending and packaging machines, a warehouse, shipping bays, enclosed processing tower, and offices. Featuring eighteen 12 to 15 metre high metal bins, all to be served by ten trucks per day and employ 20 people.
Located just east of Goodwood, the property was subject to several planning policies, including the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The applicant submitted six technical reports, along with noise impact studies.
The residents who voiced surprise at the existence of the first public meeting, held June 4th, 2018, requested a second information meeting, held January 7th, 2019. The second meeting generated requests for public input, resulting in almost 90 comments, which Council directed to Grainboys Holdings.
After a week long delay, Grainboys provided the information, but the format of the answers, termed "very confusing" by Township Planner Elizabeth Howson, helped to delay her report until mid-March.
Howson's report assured Council the facility met planning objectives, and she recommended approval of the by-law amendment with several conditions, such as further noise studies, truck traffic controls, site servicing designs and a landform conservation plan, to name a few.
At the Monday night meeting, Mayor Barton raised the issue of appeals to LPAT if no decision was made. Planner Howson told Council "the applicant is well beyond his 150 days, so he can appeal to the tribunal today, for lack of decision on your part."
Mayor Barton continued to present scenarios to Ms. Howson, asking if there was a possibility of an appeal even if the amendment was approved, and the applicant moved forward into the hold zone. She told the meeting "if a member of the public or an agency appeals, then you can still end up at the LPAT." However, Council would be in a better position than if they denied the amendment. In that case, Howson would be forced to testify at the tribunal and her report, in favour of the change, would be evidence.
Parties now have 20 days in which to appeal the decision.