Council delays rezoning request as it seeks long-term land-use plans

Woodstock council delayed a rezoning request as it searches for information about the long-term plans for an extended parcel of under-utilized land running next to the Trans-Canada Highway between Houlton Street and Beardsley Road.

Woodstock businessman Jason Cox requested the rezoning of a 22-acre parcel of land at the end of Wallace Street from rural resource to light industrial. In his application, the Cover-Tech tarp business owner explained that his land purchase is contingent on a rezoning approval.

Woodstock's planning advisory committee (PAC) recommended the rezoning, but council opted not to proceed with the first and second reading of the rezoning bylaw at its Sept. 27 council meeting.

Earlier in the evening, council hosted a public hearing on the rezoning request, which included a letter from residents of Wallace Street opposing the rezoning, citing the dead-end street near the TCH exit to Houlton Street is not suitable for higher traffic volumes.

"If traffic includes transport trucks and delivery trucks, Wallace Street will have to have major upgrades, as it is unable to hand this traffic in its present condition," wrote residents Frances Grzesik, M. Jane and Neil Girdwood and Joan Jones

The letter's authors represent the only homeowners on the short winding street, which ends at the Calvary United Baptist Church.

During the public hearing, Coun. Randy Leonard expressed strong opposition to the rezoning.

"Why put a business in a neighbourhood," he asked fellow council members.

During the debate on the first and second reading of the rezoning, no council member made a motion. Deputy Mayor Amy Anderson expressed willingness to make a motion to table it for a future meeting.

"I don't want to take this off the table, but I have questions I want answered," she said.

Slipp said staff would gather more information, and the rezoning will be back on council's agenda in two weeks.

During the discussion, council members raised several issues, mostly surrounding the long-term development of identified property and other large properties sitting on the undeveloped property between Wallace Street and the Yogi Bear Campground on Beardsley Road.

Slipp said his biggest concern surrounds the long-term future of that parcel of land. He said, to his knowledge, that has never been discussed.

He asked the CAO to determine if Woodstock's Municipal Plan mentions any future use for this parcel of land.

"There's going to have to be at some point some discussion about infrastructure and street development to service all of those properties," Slipp said.

Anderson noted the soon-to-be-released subdivision bylaw could also guide council in dealing with the rezoning request.

Coun. Mark Rogers noted Cox's pending purchase of the land at the end of Wallace Street reflected the lack of room to expand at his current location in the Woodstock Industrial Park across the TCH. He asked the CAO if Cox had looked at available land in the industrial park.

Garnett couldn't answer that but said Cox explained that he liked the Wallace Street location because of its proximity to the TCH highway exit.

The CAO said he also discussed traffic with Cox, who explained minimal traffic would flow to and from his proposed business. Garnett said his company receives only one or two transports a month.

"There's not a lot of heavy truck traffic," he said.

Garnett also noted the business's staff would mean an additional four or five vehicles per day. With most business sales online, customer traffic rarely means more than six or eight vehicles per week.

In his rezoning application form, Cox said he is outgrowing his current location, noting he could build a larger building on the proposed lot if rezoned.

"The parcel of land will also allow me to expand into new product lines or business opportunities, and buildings or showrooms will be added as needed," Cox wrote in his rezoning request.

Garnett said Wallace Street is currently partially paved, with a gravel section, basically a driveway, to the church. He said the same "driveway" would lead to Cox's business, but it would require upgraded roads or streets if additional buildings are added in the future.

The CAO discussed potentially creating a new route from Houlton Street between the TCH exit and the water booster station. He cautioned that such development would require further study to determine sightlines and space near the highway exit.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun