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New Elmira subdivision wins approval

In one of its final acts, Woolwich’s current council has given the green light to a large subdivision that will reshape the northwest section of Elmira. The Official Plan and zone changes approved Tuesday pave the way for up to 1,400 residential units on what is currently farmland north of Church Street West.

Work on the Lunor Group project could get underway as soon as next spring.

The decision came with some hurdles, however, as two councillors voted against it, largely on the basis of a staff recommendation the matter should be handled by the new council coming into office next month.

Council did have to defer a decision on proposed cost-sharing agreements for the extension of Barnswallow Drive and a piece of land that might one day house a new fire station. Unable to make decisions on spending in excess of $50,000 as they wind down their term, councillors had to remove those items from the agreement.

The issue of road improvements was a deal-breaker for Coun. Murray Martin, who said he was concerned about the subdivision’s impact on traffic, estimating it would put a minimum of 2,000 more cars on the road.

There are already concerns in Elmira about the volume of traffic and about speeding as drivers look for ways to avoid Arthur Street while getting through town. In fact, the township is investigating traffic calming measures on roads, including Barnswallow Drive, he noted.

“What are we going to do with 2,000 more cars? How are we going to deal with them in Elmira?

What about at the roundabout (in St. Jacobs)? We have to build roads to carry more traffic before we fill it up with houses,” Martin said of the subdivision.

With those questions unanswered, he voted against the changes, saying the next council should deal with the issues.

Coun. Sandy Shantz, too, opted for deferral, joining Martin in voting ‘no.’

While recognizing that removing the township’s portion, including the Barnswallow extension, is problematic, Coun. Mark Bauman said he expects the developer will cooperate with the new council when the issue is dealt with at a later date.

The overall design of the subdivision currently calls for the redevelopment of two existing farm properties on the north side of Church Street, adjacent to the Elmira Farm Service site. A four-acre portion at the rear of that property would in fact be included in the plan.

The bulk of the 180-acre development will take place on two farms purchased in 2005. The deal involves five property owners.

A 93-acre farm at 90 Church St. W., known as Riverbend, is the proposed site of 464 to 826 units of mixed housing types and a commercial block fronting on Church Street. To the west, the 82-acre site known as Northview is slated for 165 to 235 residential units (including homes near the Elmira Golf Club) and two commercial blocks. The four acres at the rear of the Elmira Farm Service, labeled Green Acres, would see 40 to 55 residential units of differing housing types.

There is a land-swap agreement with Elmira District Community Living.

Plans also allow for a large block that could someday house a new school. A large park and a trail system connection to the Kissing Bridge Trail to the north are also in the works.

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