Liv­ing Wa­ters Chris­tian Book­store seek­ing move to Elmira site

Cur­rently Lin­wood-based, com­pany wants to use for­mer Pre­mier Equip­ment site for ware­house, re­tail lo­ca­tion

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - STEVE KANNON

LOOK­ING FOR A NEW place to call home, Liv­ing Wa­ters Chris­tian Book­store has its eye on a for­mer farm deal­er­ship in Elmira.

Cur­rently based in Lin­wood, the com­pany wants to con­sol­i­date its of­fices, ware­house space and a re­tail store un­der one roof. To that end, it’s seek­ing an of­fi­cial plan amend­ment and zon­ing change on the prop­erty at 122 Church St. W.

Most of the for­mer Pre­mier Equip­ment site is al­ready slated for res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment in con­junc­tion with the Lunor sub­di­vi­sion, but Liv­ing Wa­ters wants to sever the front por­tion and make use of the ex­ist­ing build­ings to serve as the com­pany head­quar­ters.

The com­pany aired its pro­posal at a pub­lic meet­ing be­fore Wool­wich coun­cil­lors last week.

Al­though zon­ing on the prop­erty al­ready al­lows some re­tail, it doesn’t cover the range pro­posed by Liv­ing Wa­ters in keep­ing with its four re­tail lo­ca­tions, which in­cludes books/read­ing ma­te­rial, in­door and out­door games, Bi­bles and re­li­gious ma­te­rial, kitchen­ware and gift items, among oth­ers.

“It’s a re­quest for a lim­ited range of ad­di­tional re­tail uses,” noted Dan Ken­na­ley, Wool­wich’s di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing and plan­ning, of the pro­posed zone change.

Some of those uses are typ­i­cally found in the down­town core rather than in a ser­vice com­mer­cial area, he said of con­cerns about the pro­posal.

In iso­la­tion, less of an is­sue, but there is a pend­ing ap­pli­ca­tion for a sim­i­lar ex­pan­sion of uses in a ser­vice com­mer­cial zone else­where in town, said Ken­na­ley.

But the com­pany’s plan­ner noted the op­er­a­tion re­ally isn’t suit­able for a down­town lo­ca­tion, while the pro­posed site al­ready al­lows a range of re­tail uses.

“It’s not re­ally that far of a stretch,” said An­drew Head of plan­ning firm Dry­den, Smith & Head.

He added that the re­tail store is only one com­po­nent, with Liv­ing Wa­ters hav­ing some trou­ble find­ing a lo­ca­tion that has zon­ing in place for all three of its needs. The Church Street prop­erty checks most of the boxes, right down to reusing the ex­ist­ing build­ings.

The pro­posed uses are com­pat­i­ble with the site, he ar­gued, not­ing he ex­pects the op­er­a­tion to have less traf­fic and other im­pacts than the pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pant.

“Is it good plan­ning? It sure is,” he said.

Head de­scribed the re­tail por­tion as a “des­ti­na­tion store” that will draw peo­ple from out­side the area.

Since its launch in 2004 in Lin­wood, Liv­ing Wa­ters has ex­panded to four lo­ca­tion, with a boom­ing on­line busi­ness and a whole­sale op­er­a­tion that pro­vides ma­te­rial to some 100 re­tail­ers. It has now out­grown its orig­i­nal home, he said.

The pro­posal would see about a third of the cur­rent prop­erty – 8,410 square me­tres of 25,072 sq. m. – al­lo­cated to the Liv­ing Wa­ters op­er­a­tion, with the rest form­ing part of the Green Acres sub­di­vi­sion that’s al­ready re­ceived draft ap­proval. The two ex­ist­ing build­ings would be used for a ware­house (1,096 square me­tres or 11,797 square feet), re­tail store (981 sq. m. or 10,559 sq. ft.) and of­fice space (140 sq. m. or 1,507 sq. ft.).

In re­sponse to the sole ques­tion raised, Head noted the com­pany ex­pects truck traf­fic and hours of op­er­a­tion to be less than was pre­vi­ously the case when the site was home to the farm deal­er­ship.

Coun­cil­lors didn’t raise any is­sues, with the mat­ter now be­ing sent back to plan­ning staff for re­view. A rec­om­men­da­tion re­port will come at a later date, with coun­cil mak­ing a de­ci­sion at that point.

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