No industrial land expansion in Hawkesville, council decides

Residents pack council chambers to oppose plan for rezoning; no such issues in approving changes in Crosshill

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Hawkesville resident Dan Bender had some questions for councillors before they voted against adding employment lands to the settlement area. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]
Residents’ opposition carried the day, as Wellesley council this week voted against plans to create more industrial land in Hawkesville.

Councillors did, however, vote in favour of adding 6.7 acres of employment lands in Crosshill.

Concerned Hawkesville residents were out in full force on Tuesday night, filling council chambers to voice their objection to township staff’s plan to add 3.8 acres of employment land abutting an industrial site occupied by Chervin Kitchens.

Rezoning the land, situated close to homes, would allow Chervin to expand its operations.

This week’s meeting was a follow-up to one last month where council asked for more options before making a decision. Unimpressed with the process then, residents came out again to stress their displeasure.

Beth Frank, who lives on Orville Court in Hawkesville, said there were still issues left unaddressed, including bylaw infractions by Chervin Kitchens.

“The township doesn’t take a proactive approach to enforcing bylaws,” she said. “Infractions are complaint-driven. Now we are supposed to trust council to hold (Chervin) accountable?” she said, referencing the traffic, noise, smell and other bylaw infractions. “I am baffled.”

For Mayor Joe Nowak, the issue was distrust, of both the township and local industry, on the part of Hawkesville residents.

“I am not going to support the recommendation as it stands. I am concerned about the lack of trust and the lack of compliance,” he said. “It could give some time for the residents and the applicant to find some common ground with the problems they are having.”

Since the Feb. 14 meeting, councillors took the time to visit homes in Hawkesville and get the lay of the land, and for Coun. Shelley Wagner, the tour just confirmed her previous misgivings.

“My stance hasn’t changed, but having gone to the Franks’ backyard, smelling what they smell and looking at what they look at, I didn’t like it before, but I liked it even less after going out there,” she said.

Her stance was shared by her colleagues, who voted down the expansion plans, with Coun. Peter van der Maas abstaining from voting on the issue.

It was a different story when dealing with new employment lands proposed for Crosshill, however.

After deciding to split one motion into two in order to deal with Hawkesville and Crosshill separately, councillors voted in favour, giving businesses such as Gerber Meats the opportunity to update and expand their operations.

“I have talked to people who don’t mind (more employment lands in Crosshill) and sometimes you have to make a decision about what is in the best interest of the whole versus the few,” said Coun. Herb Neher. “Gerber Meats have been here for 30-some years, the shop is really outdated, and what they want to do is something similar to Stemmler’s in Heidelberg there. Gerber Meats owns that property. They are a taxpayer in the township as well. I have done a lot of soul-searching on this one in Crosshill. This is totally different than in Hawkesville.”

Having made a decision about Hawkesville land, the township is turning its attention to bylaw violations in the village. For example, there are trailers parked on what is currently zoned as agricultural land, said chief administrative officer Rik Lowagie, assuring councillors the process of bringing Chervin into compliance is already underway.