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Council freezes new development in Wellington for one year

Five councillors concerned about freezing new development in Wellington for one year were outvoted by nine others who voted to approve an interim control bylaw to allow municipal staff time to assess and sort how and when developers will get water, sewer and other services they need.

The explosion of development under way, and proposed in Wellington, has created planning and infrastructure challenges within the village. Council learned at Tuesday night’s meeting that the bylaw might also cause havoc with a sale of property north of the Millennium Trail recently sold by the Greer family.

Paul Greer told council a new bylaw two days before the offer’s conditions are to be waived on the 116-acre parcel of land could kill the deal, expected to close at the end of October.

“Half of our property was already subject to an interim control bylaw between 2016 and 2018. Now staff want the other half to be subject to another IBC – but it’s all one property. We are in the process of selling the property to a developer interested in investing in the community. The interim control bylaw could possibly result in the deal falling through.”

He noted the developer has been working with municipal staff since February, and made a conditional offer July 2.

“Passing another bylaw does not seem fair, especially given what we have already gone through with the previous bylaw. And we are here tonight dealing with another bylaw two days before the conditions are to be waived.”

Greer wanted to know the exact intent of the bylaw and why it is needed.

The bylaw only affects lands where municipal services are currently not available. Projects construction-ready are not impacted.

“The proposed interim control bylaw will provide staff appropriate time to review the land use policies and bring to council recommendations to address the current planning and infrastructure challenges within the village,” said Michael Michaud, manager of planning, in his report to council.

Several councillors, and Mayor Steve Ferguson, expressed concern about the 11th hour change that could end Greer’s real estate deal, and questioned exemption for the family’s land.

County CAO Marcia Wallace noted council could amend the bylaw to exclude the property, but the move might still leave the deal at risk as that developer is also looking at lands adjacent to Greer’s.

She suggested an alternative would be for council to rely on the existing planning process, and leverage decisions until there is adequate servicing in place.

Michaud explained staff need to work to design the new infrastructure, what it will look like, where it will go, and what it will service, keeping enough capacity to support developments, and plan how to phase them in.

Council voted 9-5 to approve the interim control bylaw and have staff bring forward a report that reviews policies and schedules of the Wellington Urban Area Secondary Plan within a year.

Projects currently under review by the County, and applications deemed complete, are exempt from the bylaw. The exemption is linked to a requirement to enter into a servicing agreement that would determine how municipal servicing is to be provided.

The previous bylaw was applied in 2016 and extended in 2018 to review industrial land use zoning in Wellington. Under the Planning Act, council may not pass another interim control bylaw on the same lands for a period of three years after the lapsing of the original bylaw.

Michaud noted the review may result in new policies for council to consider as part of a future amendment to the Wellington Urban Centre Secondary Plan.

Map shows lands exempt from interim control bylaw:

Filed Under: Local News

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