| May 15, 2008

Feature Article - May 15, 2008

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Feature Article - May 15, 2008 Central Frontenac slows Earthworx composting planBy Jeff Green

Faced with a contentious zoning application by Casey Shea of Earthworx, Central Frontenac planning consultant Glenn Tunnock recommended that it be deferred, and council agreed.

Tunnock said that the applicant should be asked to file an application for an Official Plan amendment, giving the township an opportunity to require Mr. Shea to provide assurances and complete environmental studies before proceeding.

“In my opinion, there is no merit in council proceeding with this application until Mr. Shea has undertaken some studies. I do believe strongly that there are deal breakers in this case. The applicant needs to demonstrate that he can receive certificates of approval from the Ministry of the Environment. A significant issue is the noise issue, and air quality as well,” Tunnock said in presenting his report to council.

Earthworx is seeking a zoning change in order to make the site, which is located on the Westport Road in Hinchinbrooke district, available for the composting of what are known as source-separated organics. The company intends to answer a request for proposal from the City of Kingston to set up curbside pickup of compostable materials, including table scraps, bones, coffee grounds, eggshells, etc. The material would be trucked to the Westport Road site for composting.

Current zoning at the site, which was obtained in 2001, allows only for the composting of leaf and yard waste, and the material to be composted can only be sourced from Central Frontenac Township. Earthworx has never proceeded to obtain approvals from the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) to set up any large scale composting at the site, which is mainly used as a quarry and for topsoil extraction, and as a holding site for a variety of landscaping materials that Earthworx markets in the Kingston area.

Tunnock's report outlined the three certificates of approval that a composting site would need to obtain from the MoE, and talked about local considerations that the township could concern itself with as it considers an applicaiton for an official plan amendment. These included visual impacts and site layout, vermin and animal attraction, and traffic impacts.

“Further information that should be provided to the township as part of the process includes: site dimensions, setbacks from the proposed operation to property boundaries, expansion plans, setbacks from water and wetlands, on-site parking, buildings, if any, and proposed landscaping,” the report says.

I'd like to say this report is pretty good and thorough,” said Councilor Bob Harvey. “This shows us the hoops that Mr. Shea has to jump through. The only question I have is that when it talks about air quality, it talks about health issues, but there is also the issue of proper enjoyment of property. That's the only issue that I'd like to see looked at further. If there is a negative odour coming over, it is not what people expected when they bought their property.”

Glenn Tunnock agreed. “It boils down to an issue of land compatablity and if the land use is not compatible with other uses, then the township should not be approving this zoning, in my opinion,” he said.

In accepting Tunnock's recommendations, council approved a motion calling for site plan control, a hydrogeological study, noise asessment, the filing of a plan regarding occupational characteristics of the proposed operation, and said the municpality may require licensing of the facility under the municipal act and the establishment of a public commitee to deal with concerns that arise.

“I think it paves out a clear path for us to follow before a facility of this kind can be brought into operation. A poor site is a headache in the long haul,” said Mayor Janet Gutowski before council approved the motion.

A number of residents from nearby properties, including 13 Island Lake in South Frontenac, which is located one kilometre from the Earthworx site, attended the meeting.

Glenna Asselstine, who has become an unofficial spokesperson for the group, asked that the township make a better effort to communicate to the people who are concerned. “I only found out that this report was being presented tonight because I happened to call the township office on Friday. Otherwise we would not have been here,” she said.

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