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Farm-based fertilizer company cleared for expansion

An on-farm fertilizer business looking to expand in Woolwich’s north end got the green light this week from township council.

The decision reclassifies the Wellington Fertilizer operation as “farm-related use” from the current “on-farm business” designation. The zone change approved Tuesday night allows farm owner Robert
Brubacher to build a new warehouse on his 56-acre farm property at 7021 Sideroad 5 W.

He plans to add a 1,367-square-metre warehouse to a site that’s now home to a 330-sq.-m. building and a 71-sq.-m. office. The company brings in raw ingredients such as potassium sulphate, potash, copper sulphate and gypsum, mixing them to create various fertilizers that are then sold to farm customers.

In recommending the plan, however, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said his staff has taken into consideration concerns raised by neighbours since a public meeting last October. The township requires a site plan that deals with issues of dust, noise, garbage and truck traffic, with the proposed new layout dealing with many of the current problems.

Plans to move the loading and bagging areas away from the front of the property and into an enclosed area will deal with noise and odour complaints, for instance, he suggested.

Likewise, Brubacher noted the new building will be set up to allow trucks to drive through, with room on the site to permit trucks to turn prior to exiting, eliminating the sound of back-up beepers and keeping trucks from having to back in off of the road.

For neighbour Darren MacMillan, whose house is just 90 metres from the existing operation, growth at Wellington Fertilizer runs the risk of making current problems worse. He pressed councillors for assurances there would be no negative impacts on his property.

He rattled off a list of concerns – noise, hours of operation, potential health impacts of fertilizer dust, possible contamination of his well – related to watching the property across the road move away from farming and towards a “fertilizer industry.”

“I just want to make sure my family’s personal health and my investment in my property are both taken care of – that’s my main concern.”

His comments drew a sympathetic response from Coun. Mark Bauman, who said the neighbours have a right not to be impacted by particulate leaving the Wellington Fertilizer site.

“I am very concerned about any particulate leaving the property. Your property should not be subject to any airborne particulate,” he said.

“I don’t think that any of the neighbours should expect any fertilizer dust.”

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