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St. Jacobs likely to see more development

A new formula for determining sewage capacity may lead to more development in St. Jacobs, where projects have been on hold due to inadequacies at the wastewater treatment plant.

Mercedes Corp., for instance, scaled back residential development plans for lots at 10 Front St. and 1441 King St. N. in St. Jacobs. Originally looking at 70 units, they cut that to 46 before dropping the size down to the 14 townhouses proposed last year.

However, that was based on a 2009 figure showing only 42 sewage connections available at this time. Under Waterloo Region’s new allocation formula, that number could triple, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley told Woolwich councillors discussing a report Tuesday night.

Instead of calculating how much extra sewage the treatment plant can handle based on units, the region now uses the number of people as its basis. That essentially means there’s a sliding scale to determine development’s impact on capacity – a single-family home, for example, represents 3.34 people, while an apartment just 1.83 people. That clears the way for more hookups and potentially more projects.

Along with the Mercedes plan, Home Hardware and developers of the Valleyview Heights subdivision, among others, are interested in expansion, eyeing closely the capacity figures.

Given the revised regional figure, Kennaley suggested the township look at allocating 53 of the 289 “people” to cover the potential extension of municipal services to 16 homes in the south end of the village now on private septic systems. Another 10 would be held in reserve to permit minor infilling or duplexing of existing homes in the village.

The remaining 226 allocation units would be available for new development, said Kennaley.

That number could rise, however, based on the outcome of a report covering those unserviced homes in the south end, where residents are mostly opposed to the installation of municipal services and the expense that comes with them, both upfront and ongoing.

Coun. Mark Bauman, noting the public meeting with those homeowners was held last year, pressed Kennaley for that report, which he had expected to see long before now.

Explaining that part of the delay was due to legal questions surrounding the issue, Kennaley said his report would likely be tabled in August.

That announcement prompted one of the residents to ask if the township plans to push for servicing against the will of homeowners in the south end.

While Kennaley said servicing still remains an option, Coun. Ruby Weber quickly added the scenario was highly unlikely.

“We all know there’s a demand for sewage capacity in St. Jacobs, so I don’t know why we would force it on someone who doesn’t want it.”

If council eventually opts to side with the residents, the allocation units would be turned back into the general pool. Even at that, capacity will remain tight until the region upgrades the treatment plant, likely in 2014.

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