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Golf course changes raise red flag

The thought of pastoral views being replaced by a new clubhouse and parking lot had residents of Golf Course Road in Conestogo ramping up for a battle. A last-minute change of plans at the Conestoga Country Club, however, diffused the situation before a public meeting this week in Woolwich council chambers.

Instead, the organization now plans to renovate the existing clubhouse to act as home base for a fledgling new cycling club. A zone change is required to accommodate the use, and Tuesday night’s meeting was the first public vetting of the idea.

Originally, the country club had been looking to build a new facility and parking lot adjacent to Golf Course Road, a prospect greeted with trepidation by neighbours, who flooded the township with letters and e-mails registering their opposition to the idea.

Just last week, however, owners scrapped plans for a new building, deeming renovations more cost-effective, explained Glenn Scheels, a planner with the GSP Group in Kitchener.

A zone change is still needed to permit the cycling club to operate from the facility. Responding to questions from residents in attendance, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said the cycling group falls outside the conventional accessory uses associated with golf courses – weddings receptions, corporate functions and the like – making the rezoning necessary.

He added that the zoning has nothing to do with constructing a new clubhouse, which would require only a building permit and approval of a site plan.

That prospect raised red flags for the residents in attendance. Although pleased with plan to renovate instead of building a new clubhouse, Golf Course Road resident Shelley Bolger called on the township to impose limitations on any future construction on the site.

Her plea met with a sympathetic ear from Coun. Mark Bauman, who expressed support for some kind of restriction preventing an easy move of the clubhouse to another spot on the site. He asked Kennaley to investigate that option when assessing the golf course’s rezoning application.

In response to questions from residents, Scheels noted there is no timeline for the renovations, though the work would likely be done this summer if the zone change goes ahead. Architects are just now beginning preliminary work, so there are few details about the scope of the renovation. Additions are contemplated, but any that did occur would be minimal.

The renovations needed for the cycling club would likely take place on the second floor of the structure, and would include a lounge, a fitness area, shower and washroom facilities and space for bike storage, he explained.

After allowing time for more public input and studying the merits of the application, planning staff will come back to council at a later date with a recommendation report.

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