A northeast-Elmira neighbourhood abutted by industrial sites has a new worry in the form of a planned expansion of the operational area of a former auto-wrecking site.
The owners of 39 Arthur St. N. are seeking zoning and official plan amendments to permit what is now some 7.7 acres of open space covered with trees and scrub-brush to be converted to a gravel parking lot. The applications were discussed at a public meeting as Woolwich councillors met April 11.
The site, formerly home to Paleshi Motors and 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers, is currently rented to Grandridge Carriers, a trucking firm, and Brubacher Roofing Systems.
Part of the property also sits atop a former municipal landfill site decommissioned decades ago, but with lingering methane issues.
Of the 11.6-acre property, about four acres at the front is zoned for industrial use, with 39A Holdings Ltd. looking to clear out much of the rear portion to provide for parking trucks and trailers. The company also proposes to provide the township with ownership of a small strip where a municipal watermain runs under the site, as well as establishing a formal link between the Kissing Bridge Trail and Bolender Park. There is currently a makeshift pathway along the rear of the property.
Residents of the High Street area expressed concerns about increasing industrial uses in an area already close to many industrial properties.
“The neighborhood is bounded by industrial land on three sides,” said resident Anne Kendall. “We have the Lanxess chemical facility to the south, the Elmira pet food plant and BioEn power facility to the north, and the property in question is to the west of our neighborhood. We’ve had a lot of issues over the years with industrial properties that surround us. In particular, we’ve been subjected to odor and particulate concerns from the north and from the south and with long-standing issues with water and land contamination from the south.”
Neighbours’ worries also include the loss of a buffer space if the trees are cut down and the area turned into a parking lot.
“We are hard-pressed for green space in this township, and what I want to know is that this area is going to have a significant green zone, buffers of trees that are going to grow and be able to fill in that fence,” said resident Cheryl Fisher, discussing the plan to replant trees along the fence line, particularly along the south end of the property.
Some 200 trees, mostly invasive Norway maples, are slated to be removed. The applicant is to replant using native species, said consultant Nathan Miller.
“We will replace any trees removed at a one-to-one rations. If there’s not space on the site, we would look into planting them elsewhere,” he said, suggesting Bolender Park as an option.
“In terms of the buffer and adding trees, as you’ve heard there are a number trees that may be removed and they have to plant more so that open space section between Bolender and that fence is probably going to be one of the biggest areas we can see trees be planted. That would probably get heavily planted appropriately so with native trees,” said Jeremy Vink, the township’s manager of planning.
Hugh Handy, a planner with the GSP Group representing the applicant, said his client is aware of the concerns of nearby residents.
“Recognizing that this sits within a broader residential area , we need to be sensitive to both in terms of what those operations are and how this fits in with the broader neighborhood,” he said.
Last week’s meeting was for information purposes, with council making no decisions. Following the public-input phase, township planning staff will review submissions and make a recommendation at a future council meeting.