Company asked to be ‘good neighbours’

By Karen Fallon

According to councillor Carolyn Davies, there are many examples of heavy industrial and residential developments “living in harmony” and that’s what she would like to see in connection to a recent rezoning application.

Residents in the area are “fearful of their health” from the operation of a recycling and material recovery facility within the heavy industrial designated lands on the east side of Howard Avenue, says Davies.

On June 7, a public meeting was held regarding 709 Howard Ave, which brought forward a number of comments, all of which have since been addressed noted Town planner Lori Bratt.

“We feel that every comment and question has been addressed and responded to as part of our investigation,” said Bratt, who noted that the planning staff were behind the application.

The amendment before council would change the current zoning on the lands from Agriculture to a Special Provision Heavy Industrial.

This zone provides for specific permitted uses including the “most restrictive set-backs” in accordance with the Ministry of Environment guidelines.

It also addresses open storage, definitions for the proposed use and the holding provision which will require environmental compliance approval and the execution of an approved site plan agreement prior to its removal, says Bratt, who noted that the application is in line with the town’s Official Plan.

If the application was approved by council there would be a number of steps the owner would have to take before being able to move forward including site plan approval under guidelines set out by MOE.

“I realize that it is an industrial area; the people who live there realize this is an industrial area, but there has to be a respect for the rest of the community and I just don’t see them – the Jones Group – being good neighbours at this point,” said Davies.

“I’d like to see a period of time where this person gets the message that he has to be a good corporate citizen first before we approve anything else,” she added.

The property is in compliance and has been for several months. This, says Bratt, is due to both municipal and provincial involvement.

Councillor Diane Pouget says she has “very grave concerns” about the company and of having a waste site disposal next to residential homes.

“You are saying that everything is fine, that they have become good corporate citizens because everything is cleaned up. But what I am saying is they have cleaned up because they are in the courts right now under the MOE,” said Pouget.

“I think it is going to cost our Town of Amherstburg more than its worth,” said Pouget, who adds that she never received the report requested on the amount of citations against the company to date.

Jean Monteith, Monteith-Brown Planning Consultant, says when considering the most effective method possible to address citations against the company administration contacted the MOE.

“This would be the quickest and the least expensive way for the town to get the issue resolved,” said Monteith. “If we took it as a zoning bylaw offense that would be incredibly lengthy, they could pay fines and keep moving so we knew that wasn’t going to be the most effective.”

Any violations that may occur in the future would be against the MOE’s Certificate of Compliance, which has “the biggest teeth possible”, and the “heaviest fines available,” says Monteith.

Councillor Robert Pillon says: “There seems to be a lot of councilors who don’t want to support this. But you have to understand that this property has been deemed heavy industrial in our Official Plan for ten or twelve years.

“There is still site plan approval and a development agreement, which all comes back to council, that’s when you can take care of all the concerns,” he added.

Administration has worked “very hard” to get to this point, noted Mayor Wayne Hurst.

“We are still going to be the authors when it comes back to this particular legislative body, as to whether or not they have compliances in place,”  notes the mayor.

In a recorded vote councilors Pouget, Bart DiPasquale and Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland voted against the rezoning. As the other four members of council voted in favour the motion passed.

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