Tribunal approves controversial Hartington Subdivision

Written by  Wednesday, 21 November 2018 10:28
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Community based opponents of the subdivision filled the township council chambers on numerous occasions over the last five years, this time on August 25, 2016 Community based opponents of the subdivision filled the township council chambers on numerous occasions over the last five years, this time on August 25, 2016

The Ontario Local Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) has given Frontenac based developer Terry Grant, subject to a set of conditions, approval to develop a 12-hectare parcel of land in the hamlet of Hartington into a 13 lot subdivision.

The Hartington Subdivision project was first proposed in 2013. At that time the plan was to build a 49 lot subdivision, within and to the south of the hamlet.

Local opposition to the project surfaced from the start, mostly centred on concerns over water supply and drainage in the vicinity, and the planning process dragged on.

The planning issues have been further complicated because Frontenac County is responsible for subdivision approval, but South Frontenac Township is responsible for the necessary zoning amendment changes.

In the summer of 2015, in response to community concerns, the application was amended, becoming a much smaller, 13 lot proposal, all within the hamlet area. After a series of delays, some having to do with the potential impacts on the building site from contaminated ground under a former gas station located close to Hartington, Terry Grant decided to launch an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. The appeal was launched against both the township and the county in early 2017 on the grounds that the process had taken longer than prescribed in provincial law.

Subsequent to launching the appeal, the county has provided draft approval for the project, but the township, over the objection of its own planning department, rejected the application for a zoning bylaw amendment.

The whole process has outlasted the Ontario Municipal Board, which has morphed into the LPAT. The LPAT hearing took place in May of 2017. Representatives from Frontenac County, South Frontenac Township, the developer, and the Hartington Community Association (the citizens group that opposes the proposal) all had standing in the hearing.

A series of engineering consultants reports from the proponents and opponents, as well as peer reviews of those reports that were ordered by the township and the county, were presented to the LPAT panel, and lawyers and planners for the various parties also presented evidence.

The decision took 18 months to be delivered. In the end the ruling was clear. The draft plan of subdivision is approved, and the township has been ordered to amend its zoning bylaw in accordance with that approval.

When contacted this week, developer Terry Grant said that he “is pleased with the decision”. He added that he will be releasing a written statement about the matter in the near future (which will be published in the Frontenac News).

In explaining the decision, LPAT panel member M. Sills referred to one of the key expert witnesses for the Hartington Citizens Coalition, the hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland, who raised concerns about water quality and quantity in the vicinity of the new subdivision, the impact of new wells on an already compromised aquifer, and the potential for contamination from the former gas station.

“The issues/concerns advanced by Mr. Ruland indisputably give cause for apprehension,” said Mr. Sills. “However, while unyielding in his challenge and criticisms of the work and

opinions of the other hydrogeological experts, Mr. Ruland has not produced

any tangible evidence to support his own contentions. He has not been on the property

and he has not undertaken any actual site investigative work or performed any testing.

“The Tribunal notes that many of the concerns/issues raised in the evidence of

Mr. Ruland were addressed in the evidence/reports/data provided by other expert

witnesses, or will be addressed through the Conditions of Draft Plan Approval. In some

cases, the investigative work completed actually invalidates assumptions made by Mr.

Ruland.”

Finally, Sills concluded that the water issues in the subject property are not insurmountable.

“In this case, the best-available technical evidence that has been placed before the Tribunal indicates that the supply demands for quality drinking water can be met, and that appropriate stormwater management measures are available. The Tribunal is satisfied that sufficient water quality and quantity investigation and stormwater management study has been advanced to warrant the granting of conditional Draft Plan Approval.”

Newly re-elected South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vandewal, who voted in favour of the plan of subdivision when it came to a vote at Frontenac County, even though his own South Frontenac Township Council had decided not to support it, said he was also pleased with the decision.

“This is good news for the township. It also shows that our planning department gave us good advice when they recommended that we approve the zoning and support the subdivision application to the county,” he said. “The new council will need to get to work on our Official Plan update in order to try and avoid these kinds of situations from coming up in the future.”

With the 13 lot subdivision now approved, the option exists for Terry Grant to dust off his plans for further development in Hartington.

He still owns the 32 hectare parcel south of the hamlet which he had been planning to develop when all this started back in 2013.

In other South Frontenac related news, another contentious development issue might be winding down, the Johnston Point Plan of Condominium in Storrington District on a shallow bay of Loughborough Lake.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has issued an “Overall Benefit” permit after the developer, Magenta Corporation, providing offsets for the impacts of the development on the habitat of threatened species, the Grey Ratsnake and the Blandings Turtle.

That might be the final bureaucratic hurdle for that 18 lot project, 15 of which are part of the land use condominium while 3 were pre-existing. 6 of the lots have already been provisionally sold in what is being marketed by Magenta as an “exclusive waterfront community” , pending final planning approval.

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