Bound­ary process proves to be a pain­stak­ing or­deal in Welles­ley

Coun­cil­lors of­ten split on de­cid­ing where new set­tle­ment lines should be drawn in choos­ing de­vel­op­ment goals

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - FAISAL ALI

REDRAWING THE MAPS OF the town­ship’s vil­lages has proven to be a labou­ri­ous task for Welles­ley coun­cil­lors, who last week strug­gled with re­mov­ing chunks of land as po­ten­tial sites of fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

The one-time-only bound­ary ra­tio­nal­iza­tion process per­mit­ted by the Re­gion of Water­loo has of­fi­cials look­ing to iden­tify the best prospects for nearand mid-term de­vel­op­ment, chang­ing the shape and size of set­tle­ment ar­eas in the process. The ex­er­cise must be net-zero: for ev­ery acre of land added one place, an acre must be re­moved from some­where else in the town­ship.

The goal is to in effect reshuf­fle the deck to align the po­ten­tial of fu­ture res­i­den­tial, com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment with ar­eas where de­mand and need are most likely to be met.

Par­cel by par­cel, coun­cil voted last week to re­move lands out of the set­tle­ment ar­eas in Bam­berg, Crosshill, Lin­wood and Welles­ley vil­lage, ef­fec­tively bar­ring these lands from any fu­ture de­vel­op­ment as they would then fall out­side the new lines on the map.

The next step is to iden­tify where the newly claimed acres will be al­lot­ted, part of a slow, on­go­ing process un­likely to be fi­nal­ized be­fore the fall.

“This is tough, this is not easy,” said Mayor Joe Nowak May 29, ad­dress­ing his fel­low coun­cil­lors and the au­di­ence, which in­cluded prop­erty own­ers and de­vel­op­ers in the town­ship ea­ger to find out if their land made the cut. “It’s prob­a­bly the most dif­fi­cult thing we’ve dealt with [these past] four years.”

It’s been a mat­ter of progress by de­grees as coun­cil­lors and plan­ning staff have the chal­leng­ing task of de­cid­ing where the next wave of de­vel­op­ment will be per­mit­ted.

The net-zero re­quire­ment means some prop­erty own­ers will in­evitably come out as win­ners in the end, and others will be losers.

It’s a de­ci­sion that will have last­ing con­se­quences, as by redrawing the map coun­cil­lors will es­sen­tially be de­cid­ing how Welles­ley might look decades from now by choos­ing where new homes and busi­nesses will be built – and where they won’t.

A fi­nal de­ci­sion won’t be rat­i­fied un­til later in the fall, but in­terim steps sug­gests that Welles­ley vil­lage will re­ceive the ma­jor­ity of the de­vel­op­ment lands avail­able at the ex­pense of the other set­tle­ments.

Coun­cil­lors ac­cepted, some grudg­ingly, that Welles­ley vil­lage was where the town­ship could ex­pect to see the most growth over the next sev­eral years. It was also the vil­lage

best equipped with the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port that growth, and there­fore was where de­vel­op­ment lands should be fo­cused.

How­ever, they tus­sled over just how much land ought to be given to the town­ship’s largest vil­lage.

A split fre­quently emerged be­tween Nowak and Coun. Peter van der Maas of Ward 3 (cov­er­ing Welles­ley vil­lage) on one side, sup­port­ing more of a con­cen­tra­tion in Welles­ley vil­lage, and coun­cil­lors Shel­ley Wag­ner, Herb Ne­her and Carl Smit, who pre­ferred to leave more de­vel­op­ment lands to the other vil­lages in the town­ship.

In Bam­berg, a to­tal of 3.6 acres was re­moved from the set­tle­ment ar­eas, prin­ci­pally on prop­er­ties on the east side of Weimar Line/Moser Young Road in­ter­sec­tion. In Crosshill, 9.3 acres was re­moved on lands just north and south of Wil­liam Hast­ings Line, just south­west of the Hutchin­son Road in­ter­sec­tion.

Welles­ley vil­lage also had some 24 acres of lands re­moved along the north­ern edges of the vil­lage. How­ever, the vil­lage will likely see much more set­tle­ment lands added to the south­east and western sec­tions later in the process.

Lin­wood proved to be a flash­point for coun­cil­lors, with some opt­ing for the to­tal re­moval of a 19.6 acres-worth of land, south­west of the Ament Line/Manser Road in­ter­sec­tion, and others opt­ing to leave it in.

“The fact of the mat­ter is not ev­ery­body is go­ing to go home happy tonight, but we have to make a tough de­ci­sion,” said Nowak, who sup­ported re­mov­ing all 19.6 acres.

Town­ship staff noted that the land was orig­i­nally slated for re­moval from the set­tle­ment ar­eas back in 2001. How­ever, the owner suc­cess­fully per­suaded the re­gion and town­ship to leave the lands in, ex­press­ing a com­mit­ment to build a sub­di­vi­sion there even­tu­ally.

But 17 years later, the lands have still not seen any de­vel­op­ment. In the in­terim, pro­vin­cial plan­ning reg­u­la­tions have moved away from al­low­ing larger sub­di­vi­sions to use pri­vate ser­vices – sep­tic tanks and wells – in favour of de­mand­ing such projects be on full mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices, which isn’t an op­tion at that lo­ca­tion.

Coun. Ne­her, how­ever, ques­tioned the need to “rush” to de­velop that piece of land.

“I don’t have a prob­lem with that, per­son­ally. So it sits there. It’s his (Vin­cent Her­gott’s) prop­erty, and let him build when he wants to build, whether he wants to build five years or ten years or 40 years or what­ever,” said Ne­her.

Coun­cil re­mained di­vided on what to do, but ul­ti­mately opted to re­move just half the lands from the set­tle­ment ar­eas, though with Nowak and Van der Maas in op­po­si­tion.

With most of the re­movals taken care of, the Town­ship of Welles­ley is closer to com­plet­ing the bound­ary ra­tio­nal­iza­tion process, which will set the bound­aries of the set­tle­ment ar­eas per­ma­nently. The next step for coun­cil­lors be to de­cide how those acres will be added back to the town­ship.

[SUB­MIT­TED]

MAP: Welles­ley Ex­pan­sion B (25.06 ha)

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

Prop­erty own­ers and de­vel­op­ers ad­dressed Welles­ley coun­cil last week, mak­ing the case for their own hold­ings.

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