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Rezoning approved for 156 townhouses

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Point Edward’s biggest housing proposal in recent years passed its first hurdle Wednesday when council approved a zoning bylaw amendment to accommodate 156 townhouses at the end of Exmouth Street.

Several speakers expressed concerns during a public meeting about the development on lands owned by a numbered Ontario company represented by Sarnia’s John Stathis.

The fact that the Cargill grain elevators are located directly across from the 23-acre site was raised by several people.

“Cargill is vital to the farmers of Southwestern Ontario,” said Doug Park, a Sarnia farmer who brings hundreds of truckloads to Cargill every year.

“You cannot truck soya beans and wheat, then load it on a boat without dust,” Park said. His concern was that residents in the new development will complain about noise and dust from the grain elevators, which he said have operated there since 1924 and are vital to the farming community.

The noise and traffic created by the marine industry at the end of Exmouth and the over-size load corridor that will eventually travel to the docks there, were of concern to Rick Perdeaux, speaking on behalf of the Sarnia-Lambton Industrial Alliance.

“It’s always difficult for industry and residential to co-exist without complaints,” he said. 

Andrew Bolter, Point Edward resident and member of Climate Action Sarnia-Lambton, also had a long list of concerns including the potential for the property to be an indigenous burial ground,  a natural habitat for wildlife, and one of the last forests in the village. He also asked whether the developer will consider building any affordable housing.

County planner Ken Malenson responded that the acreage is already zoned for residential development and the proposal conforms with both Point Edward’s and the county’s official plan.

A portion of the land was once considered an environmentally protected flood plain, but that was based on old data, Malenson said.

“The reality is the landowner is within their rights,” he said, recommending that council approve the zoning bylaw amendment.

Mary Martin of Lambton Wildlife said her group believes there may be wildlife of “value” on the property and that an annual bird count is held there.

Several studies have already been complete that deal with traffic and wildlife, said the applicant’s planner Katelyn Crowley of Zelinka Priamo Ltd. in London.

“Where we can protect species, we will,” she said, noting that the former Holiday Inn golf course is part of the acreage but no construction can occur there.  It’s possible any snakes or other species displaced by the development can be relocated to the former golf course area, Crowley said.

The developer intends to build condominium townhouses that have no basements and will be designed to mitigate noise and vibrations from nearby industry, she said.

The zoning bylaw amendment is only the first step in a long planning process that will include another public meeting after a draft plan of condominium is submitted, likely in July.

It will possibly be two years before a shovel is in the ground, Crowley said.

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