Despite pressure for more industrial land, sought-after parcels in Hawkesville, Wallenstein and Crosshill will remain agricultural, at least for now, Wellesley councillors decided this week.
That decision sat well with most of the residents who crowded into council chambers Tuesday night. Much of the opposition was directed at a call to make an additional 8.9 acres available for industrial use in Hawkesville, principally at the request of Chervin Kitchens.
The property will continue to be earmarked as agricultural, which safeguards it against the kind of development that would have come from labelling it as employment land.
Marvin Bauman of Chervin Kitchens argued unsuccessfully for the employment lands. The business is outgrowing its current operations and staff is having difficulty working within current bylaws, he said.
Expansion of Chervin Kitchens is the last thing Mira vanKatwyck wanted to see, however, noting Hawkesville’s area is already 44 per cent industrial lands.
“This size of industry is just too close to homes, playgrounds and other facilities where young and old, live and play,” she told councillors. “We have a growing concern over the past few years for the real potential for an imbalance between residential and industrial lands in Hawkesville as new businesses come into our town and others have really expanded. It seems to me that Hawkesville already provides ample employment opportunities for residents within our township and further.”
Beth Frank, who lives on Orville Court in Hawkesville, questioned how council could make a final decision on employment lands when some of the information they had was not accurate.
“The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change guidelines were consulted, yet after reviewing the proposed expansion of Chervin, the Region of Waterloo noted numerous inconsistencies,” she said. “Active lots on Orville Court were noted as vacant in the noise study results, there were conflicting berm heights listed, missing information on site plans and incorrect addresses throughout the reports. How can council ensure its citizens a well-founded decision will be made when presented with incorrect information? How will this foster compatibility?”
For Dave Sargent, industrial lands directly adjacent to what is now a quiet residential area just doesn’t make sense. Companies already established there aren’t following the rules already, he maintained, so why give them more room?
“My blood is boiling. There is a massive parking lot on agricultural land, there is a smell and the noise, and what they are asking you to do is let the fox in the hen house when they promise not to do anything wrong,” he said. “People move here to get to our piece of heaven, not to live next to noise and pollution.”
For Bauman, re-designating the land would allow for a much-needed expansion to the existing building, including an additional 20,000 square feet of floor space, along with more parking and changes to the septic system.
“I am trying hard, but I am probably not trying hard enough. I have 165 employees that I need to keep satisfied as well,” he said. “I feel as though I am getting pulled and pushed here and there. I feel sorry for what I am putting every one of you through. I would love another option. I would love to have a 100-acre farm out in the middle of nowhere and zone it industrial, but I can’t do that.”
Coun. Herb Neher wanted more information before making a final decision, but Mayor Joe Nowak was against the idea, pointing out that this has been ongoing since last fall.
“I thought I was going to make a decision, but after tonight, I really want a chance to digest this,” said Neher.
Coun. Shelley Wagner, however, said the township’s obligations for employment lands had already been met in Hawkesville, echoing statements from some of the speakers from earlier in the meeting.
“They talked about the hectares that are currently commercial/industrial/institutional and just to put it in perspective, 44 per cent of the settlement area is either commercial, industrial or institutional. That is almost half and half, as to what we have provided as employable lands,” she said. “It was mentioned that we need to provide employment for one in three residents. With the 165 employees at Chervin, not to mention the bakery, Frey’s, we have more employees in the settlement area than we have residents and, for me, I think it is great that the business has done so well, but at some point, you have to look at the fact that the success of his business has become a burden to residents. At what point is enough, enough?”
The vote went ahead with three councillors voting against the motion to designate the 12 acres as employment lands. Council asked planner Geoff van der Baaren to look into other possible options for them to look at during the next committee of the whole meeting in March.