OMB upholds Woolwich’s staging plan for Breslau subdivision

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Woolwich’s go-slow approach to residential development will be in full force when two new subdivisions get rolling next year in Breslau.

Where one developer, Thomasfield Homes, came to an arrangement with the township, the second, Empire Communities, opted to challenge Woolwich’s stance at the Ontario Municipal Board. Ironically, when the quasi-judicial agency’s decision came down Nov. 18, Empire ended up with a smaller annual allocation than did Thomasfield.

Woolwich had been pushing for annual staging of 50 new homes for each developer, but allowed Thomasfield 75 per year to avoid any legal entanglements. Opting to go to the OMB, Empire ended up with the 50 originally on offer. The OMB decision does, however, clear the way for the next phase of the Riverland subdivision to go ahead.

“Thomasfield settled and got more. Empire wanted to fight about it, and they got less,” Dan Kennaley, Woolwich’s director of engineering and planning, acknowledged this week.

Previous development in the village, notably Thomasfield’s Hopewell Heights and Empire’s Riverland subdivisions, had no restrictions. But with a new settlement plan for Breslau, the staging plan for Breslau is in line with what the township does in Elmira and St. Jacobs.

“It’s good news for the township,” he said of the OMB decision. “We got the staging … we wanted.”

Now, with a few minor tweaks, the way is clear for both developments to go ahead, though the onset of winter means actual work on the sites is likely on hold until the spring, Kennaley added.

Empire Communities hopes to build 531 units – a mix of single-detached houses and townhomes – on a 77-acre parcel to the west of its existing Riverland subdivision. The development would be home to an anticipated 1,636 people, with employment land in the mix adding another 76 employees. The plan also includes three parks and space for a new elementary school.

Thomasfield’s latest bid for its eastside lands would bring 2,200 new residents and 2,800 jobs to the area. Proposed is a combination of residential (single-family, semis, townhouses and apartment buildings), commercial space, offices, retail stores, industrial uses, schools, open space, trails and wetlands extending over more than 335 acres east of the company’s current development, the Hopewell Heights subdivision.

Along with industrial and commercial properties, the plan would see some 900 to 1,100 homes built, depending on the number of apartments/multi-unit buildings. The company is looking at taking up to 12 years to build out this development. The first phase could see 225 units, mostly single-detached homes and some multi-unit buildings.