Loggerhead Marsh at issue in OMB appeal for subdivision
A planner for the city of Peterborough told a hearing on Wednesday that the redesignation of the Loggerhead Marsh to a provincially significant wetland means a lot, in terms of whether houses should be built nearby.
Brad Appleby, the city’s subdivisions planner, was speaking as an expert witness at an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing at City Hall on Wednesday.
The OMB hearing seeks to determine whether a developer should be allowed to build the Batten White subdivision on 49 acres off Parkhill Rd., east of Brealey Dr. – which is right near the Loggerhead Marsh.
City council rejected the plan twice: once in 2015, and again in 2016, after developer Murray Davenport had redesigned the subdivision.
Shortly after the last time council rejected the plan, the Loggerhead Marsh was upgraded from a locally significant wetland to a provincially significant one.
That switch carries a lot of weight with planners, Appleby said; he called it “the heart of the matter”.
“It changes the way you look at that wetland, from a planning perspective,” he said.
The city is holding firm to its position: no subdivision.
There are also two citizens taking the city’s side – in other words, they’re fighting the subdivision before the OMB, too.
Paul Frost and Maggie Xenopoulos - both biologists who teach at Trent University – live in the area and are party to the hearing.
Meanwhile Davenport is expected to bring several expert witnesses to argue that he should be allowed to build after all.
OMB member David Lanthier will hear testimony for six more days; the hearing is expected to wrap up Sept 21.
City council rejected Davenport’s first application, in 2015; it called for 200 large houses on oversized lots.
The city’s planning staff had not recommended council grant permission to build, mostly because of concerns over development too close to the wetland.
Some councillors also felt it was an outdated subdivision plan, with nothing but large house son large lots.
Nearly a year later, Davenport proposed a new plan that included townhouses and condos, and also moved a sewer further from the creek that feeds Loggerhead Marsh (instead of 15 metres away from the creek, the sewer was 20 m away).
City planning staff preferred that plan and recommended that council approve it – but council still rejected it, again over concerns about the wetland.
Council’s latest rejection of the plan was in March 2016.
Four months later, in July, the province upgraded the status of the Loggerhead Marsh to provincial ly significant.
Appleby said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) said certain species in the wetland – such as barn swallows – need protection from development.
He also testified that the city doesn’t conduct its own scientific research, to help determine whether development could potentially harm the natural features of a piece of land.
City planners leave that to experts at MNRF or the Otonabee Region Conservation Area, he said; they take advice from those scientists and then decide whether an application constitutes good planning.
The hearing continues Thursday, when developer Murray Davenport and his planner are both expected to give testimony.