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Woolwich on-farm business seeks zone change for expansion of scale, product line

Looking to keep his on-farm business running year-round, a north Woolwich farmer wants to branch out from bagging fertilizer to include processing de-icing salt during the summer downtime.

Robert Brubacher’s bid for a zone change on his property at 7021 Sideroad 5 W. was the subject of a public meeting Aug. 9 in Woolwich council chambers. His application calls for an increase in the space the ancillary business, Wellington Fertilizer, takes up on the 56-acre farm, to 2.5 acres from 1.7. Also requested are provisions for the bagging of additional granulars such as salt, the conversion of the existing 1,215-square-metre barn to a storage facility, and the installation of a truck weigh station.

He was represented by planner Bob Black, who said the expansion would allow for year-round production at the facility, adding more jobs. Currently, the fertilizer operation runs September to May. The plan is to process and bag de-icing salt during the summer months to keep the plant running 12 months of the year.

“That would provide more jobs for the community,” he said.

Black noted that Brubacher bought the farm property to the north, moving his family to the house there. His beef operation is now based on the new site, freeing up the existing barn for use by the processing business. The bulk of the land is used as a feedlot for the beef operation.

Woolwich council last granted an expansion to the business in the fall of 2011.

Neighour Darren MacMillan, who objected to  the expansion at that time, said Tuesday that many of his concerns remain, particularly truck traffic on the narrow roadway. He noted that a fire on the property last week underscored the dangers of having explosive material on the site. That puts his family at risk.

“Do I have an evacuation plan? No, I don’t. Why should I have to?” he asked of dealing with the threat.

Township fire chief Rick Pedersen noted that the department has had some concerns about the property, but changes to the operation and subsequent inspections have all been satisfactory.

“We are monitoring it.”

Black said inspections show there are no safety issues. Likewise, a follow-up to noise and dust studies done for the previous expansion revealed no problems.

As this week’s meeting was for information purposes only, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said his staff would review the application and all inputs before coming back to council with a recommendation at a later date.

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