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Company appeals decision to suspend development

Calling the move too broad, the Murray Group has appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board a township bylaw temporarily halting development near West Montrose.

The Moorefield-based road construction company has an interest in an area covered by an interim control bylaw approved earlier this year by Woolwich council. The land is adjacent to farm properties at 1420 and 1433 Letson Dr. where Capital Paving hopes to build a large gravel pit, but the Guelph-based company did not launch a legal challenge of its own.

The turn of events caught Dan Kennaley, Woolwich’s director of engineering and planning, by surprise, as he expected Capital to take action.

“I’m disappointed in their appeal, particularly because not even Capital Paving appealed,” he said of the Murray Group move. “It’s certainly a little frustrating.”

For its part, the Murray Group said the restricted area is too large if the goal is to protect the area around the historic covered bridge.

The restrictions apply to an area bounded by Northfield Drive to the west, Line 86 to the north, Katherine Street to the east and an irregular line to the south corresponding somewhat with Letson Drive. Under the interim control bylaw, the entire area is out of bounds to development for a year while the township conducts a cultural heritage landscape (CHL) study.

“The [coverage] shouldn’t extend that far – it’s an inappropriately large area,” said company vice-president Richard Seibel. “We question whether they can do that, and whether the area’s too large.”

He too expected Capital Paving to appeal the township’s bylaw.

With the OMB now in play, the township is prepared to support the bylaw, said Kennaley.

“Our intent is to defend our interim control bylaw.”

Based on provincial policies, significant cultural heritage landscapes must be conserved, and it’s incumbent on the township to undertake the study, he noted.

While it’s early in the OMB appeal process, Kennaley said the township would be looking to meet with the Murray Group to see if an agreement could be made prior to a hearing.

Last fall, Woolwich reached a pre-hearing deal with Capital Paving, which had appealed to the OMB the township’s demand for more studies related to new gravel pit policies – known as official plan amendment 13 (OPA 13). Similar negotiations may be part of this action.

In the meantime, Woolwich will press ahead with the CHL study, which won’t be held up by this legal challenge.

“We don’t have the luxury of waiting, as we have one year from the time of council’s original approval,” he said. The clock started running in February.

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