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County of Brant councillors unanimously deny Oakland subdivision

CouncilCounty of Brant councillors unanimously deny Oakland subdivision

County of Brant councillors unanimously turned down both a re-zoning application and an application to build a subdivision, in Oakland during its Council meeting on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.

The property in question is roughly 69 acres (with frontage on both Oakland Road and Highway 24) and currently contains a single detached dwelling, accessory structure and agricultural field with driveway access from Oakland Road.

The land is a Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) regulated area, contains woodland and vegetation, a provincially significant wetland (Lower Oakland Swap), and a portion of McKenzie Creek.

The applicant was proposing a 37-lot residential subdivision to be operated on private wells and private services, with blocks for: open space, stormwater management, municipal roadways, and environmental protection. The applicant had also requested that the zoning be changed from agricultural and natural heritage zones to suburban residential and natural heritage zones.

The Zoning By-Law amendment and the draft plan of the subdivision application had been submitted on February 16, 2023, and on March 24, 2023, it was deemed incomplete due to the four key concerns including:

–   Servicing as “it has not been demonstrated that private services for 37 residential lots is safe, appropriate or in the public interest.” As well, “the current proposal puts the community at risk as it relates to septic system contaminant loadings and the use of private water servicing from a highly vulnerable aquifer.”

–   Access as “the application has not demonstrated safe access into the site and has not satisfied both the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) or County of Brant as it relates to safe access.”

–   Natural heritage as “the application requires further floodplain analysis work to be completed and incorporated into a revised development plan, as well as reflected in a revised Environmental Impact Study (IES) and Stormwater Management Report.” As well, “alternative options (street A in the proposal) must be examined as provincial, conservation authority and municipal policies do not permit development or site alteration in significant wetlands.”

–   Complete Community Design as “an entire reconfiguration is required – consideration for public access, walkability density, housing form and complete community design.

On April 23, 2023 ,Innovative Planning Solutions (IPS) Consulting Inc., filed a motion to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) to dispute the incomplete application claims and the outstanding information was submitted in October and deemed completed by November 2, 2023.

“The push by the agent to deem these applications complete, meant that although the studies were provided, the information within was not necessarily adequate, or to the standards of what staff felt was a complete application,” said Kayla DeLeye, of County of Brant’s Planning Division. “Once deemed complete, Staff were in a position to move the applications forward as per the Planning Act timelines, which require a 90-day decision for zoning amendments, and 120-day decision for subdivisions.”

On Tuesday, a representative from IPS Consulting Inc., on behalf of the client (Rajan Jhamb), had requested a deferral to allow an additional 90 days to complete its application in regards to the above concerns.

“We recognize that these are real concerns that have been brought forward by staff, and in fact, we are engaged with staff and were engaged with the provincial MTO and the Conservation Authority to address these issues,” said Kevin Bechard, Senior Associate with IPS Consulting Inc.. “But our challenge here is that we’ve simply run out of time in terms of the statutory timeframes, and it’s really stopped and brought forward an application for refusal, recognizing that these matters have not been adequately dealt with at this stage in the review process. …I’m looking for the opportunity to have that dialogue with your staff, and also to review the peer review that’s been done, and to understand the potential we have for resolving that.”

Councillor John Pierce said that while he was in favour of helping proponents out to try and resolve the issues, he was unsure if the extra 90 days would help.

“My concern is, it’s not small little things here that need to be rectified. You’ve got four issues here, that are major issues, one of them being septic, one of them being access to either Highway 24 or Oakland Road, which, in essence, it’s not our planning Staff or the County that is saying no, it’s the MTO saying no,” he said. “And then the natural heritage and features with the road A, there’s no other real access onto that site other than off of Highway 24 and we know MTO has already said no to that. So, what I’m worried about here is we’re going to get April 30, and as much as our planning staff is going to help, in my gut, I don’t feel that we’re going to resolve these issues.”

David Bailey, Mayor for the County of Brant said that he also had concerns about the deferral.

“I have a concern that you would take the kindness that we are giving this application, to get closer to the finish line, but not quite make it, and then go and tell people how hard you’ve worked to almost get there, and that the time that we’ve given you has turned out to bite us in the backside,” he said. “So that’s my only concern with deferring something like this, it’s giving you more time, and then you could get close but not get there, and it would be our own fault.”

Councillor Robert Chambers then had a question in regards approving the deferral, as well as the OLT, and moved that the council go off camera to discuss it.

When the council returned to session, council then voted unanimously to refuse the application, noting that Councillors Christine Garneau and Jennifer Kyle were not present.

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