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Industrial site proposed in Hawkesville

The former president of Frey Building Contractors has applied for a zoning bylaw and official plan amendment for a piece of property at the north edge of Hawkesville as part of a plan to bring more jobs to Wellesley Township.

The 9.26-acre piece of property is at the southeast corner of the intersection of Herrgott Road and Geddes Street. Currently designated agricultural, the land would be rezoned ‘dry industrial’ under a plan by Bert Frey, who appeared at Wellesley council Tuesday night to make his case at a public meeting.

“The lands that I am the owner of really have marginal agricultural use,” he told councillors. “They’ve never been highly productive, they’re not in a wetland, they’re not in directly the Grand River watershed, [and] not environmentally sensitive.”

Frey explained that he purchased the land while he was still the president of Frey Building Contractors, with the aspiration of some day moving their headquarters from Broadway Street to the new location.

Upon Frey’s retirement from the company last year, though, the new management opted against relocating the office, and Frey received the land as part of his buyout package. He wants to establish industry at the location which would be unrelated to his old contracting business, and said it would be a big economic boost for the community.

“I think that we would agree that in order for the township to thrive into the future, there must be opportunity for economic development and for employment,” he said.
“The best way to achieve a vibrant economy is through entrepreneurial initiative and local development.”

The land in question is currently included in the Wellesley Employment Lands Strategy approved by council in September, the purpose of which is to provide an inventory of employment lands available to the township as well as a list of potential future economicdevelopment sites.

While Frey did not provide an explanation of the type of business he would build, dry industrial zoning permits a range of light industrial and secondary uses that does not require significant quantities of water, including but not limited to a gas bar, welding shop, woodworking shop, butcher shop, animal clinic or a mini storage facility.

The Wellesley Employment Lands Strategy found the township does not have a sufficient supply of designated vacant employment lands to meet the Waterloo Region’s future growth projections. The Regional Official Plan has predicted that the township will need to accommodate approximately 1,900 additional people and 810 additional jobs by 2029.

During her presentation, township junior planner Sarah Peck indicated that based on an informal survey of surrounding businesses, the proposed development by Frey could create up to 20 new jobs.

There are, however, some concerns with the land rezoning. Under the township’s minimum distance separation  (MDS 1) guideline, all new development must be a mandatory distance from existing livestock facilities.

In this case, the land must be at least 212 metres away from a barn located at 3832 Herrgott Rd.; according to Frey, the edge of his property is about 80 metres too close, but that issue could be easily resolved, he said.

“The matter of the minimum distance separation can be addressed by taking a corner of the property and allowing it to remain agricultural,” Frey explained.
The second issue is that the Wellesley Employment Lands Strategy has yet to be approved by the Region of Waterloo, and until that approval process was complete, the application was considered premature.
As a result, councillors elected to defer their decision until those two conditions could be satisfied, though Coun. Paul Hergott urged staff to put more pressure on the region to get moving on the application.
“It’s dragging on and on. If we keep pushing them, it might help,” he said.

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