The September 5 meeting of North Dundas Council was shorter than usual, lasting just over an hour. It opened with a public meeting to consider a zoning by-law amendment proposed to allow a new farm equipment dealership on a property currently used for agriculture.
A presentation was given to fill members of Council and the public in on the details of the proposed by-law amendment, and the nature of the business that the new landowners are hoping to build there. Members of the North Dundas public are permitted to speak at public meetings, as per the Planning Act, in order to give input on decisions that affect the whole community, such as zoning changes.
Greg Stubbings, who farms with his wife on the property adjacent to the subject property, took the opportunity to speak during the public meeting. Greg raised concerns about the zoning changes because the land in question is high quality agricultural land, mostly tile drained, and had trees near the back of the property that were recently removed.
Greg also shared safety concerns about the addition of a farm business on the lot in question, with road access that sits in the only straight section of the County Road 31/43 Winchester bypass. He questioned whether vehicles trying to turn onto the road from the property will be able to do so safely, with vehicles approaching from blind curves in either direction at highway speeds. For this latter point, Calvin Pol, Director of Planning, Building, and By-law Services, confirmed that an engineer has given clearance for a vehicle access entrance on the stretch of road in question. With respect to the concern regarding the best use of land, Director Pol posited that land for development in North Dundas is becoming scarce, and with this being a relatively small parcel of 15 acres, it would not have as big an impact on agriculture in the area as the sacrifice of a larger piece of land would.
Dave Baker also addressed Council during the public meeting regarding the ATV trail that runs through the property. He is worried that if the property in question becomes a commercial property, the subject portion of the ATV trail will be eliminated. Dave stated that there are about 650 ATV trail users in the area, not including many others from the broader area who pass through the Township.
Councillor Matthew Uhrig asked Director Pol to ask the new property owner about the ATV trail in a meeting that was planned for a few days after the Council meeting. He further stated that he thinks a farm equipment dealer would be a great addition for Winchester and expressed his overall support for the proposed zoning changes and the project. Councillors Lennox and Annable agreed with Councillor Uhrig’s view. Later in the meeting, the zoning by-law amendment was passed.
Much routine business was dealt with efficiently during the meeting. One example is the passing of a motion to fill in a surface pond that could have potentially affected the water quality of the Township’s new Lafleur Road well. In another item of business, Council moved to have Township staff investigate the costs of one proposed option for adding manganese filtration to the Winchester water system. Councillor Uhrig spoke passionately about the importance of ensuring local water quality, kicking off comments of agreement from other Council members as well.
The meeting ended with a short discussion of the Township’s finances, including a presentation about the 2022 budget surplus. Another Council meeting took place earlier this week, on September 19, but could not be covered for the current issue of the Times by deadline.