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Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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Woolwich clears the way for Living Waters Christian Bookstore’s move to Church St. W.

Council approves necessary official plan changes and zoning on property

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Living Waters Christian Bookstore has its new home, Woolwich council this week approving the company’s plans for the former farm dealership property in Elmira.

Currently based in Linwood, the company wants to consolidate its offices, warehouse space and a retail store under one roof. Now it has the needed official plan amendment and zoning change on the property at 122 Church St. W.

The size of the operation and the non-retail component make a typical core area location, such as downtown Elmira, ill-suited for the company’s needs, noted manager of planning John Scarfone in a report presented to council Tuesday night.

“On the surface, it may be concluded that the type of retail operation and merchandise being sold by Living Waters should logically be directed to Elmira’s Core Area in keeping with that area’s planned function. However, upon additional consideration, Living Waters’ existing, unique and specialized retail, warehouse, distribution and wholesale operations as well as the nature and scale of the proposed business envisioned for the Church Street property, may mean that the service commercial designation may be a more appropriate location,” reads his report.

Although existing zoning on the property already allows some retail, it doesn’t cover the range proposed by Living Waters in keeping with its four retail locations, which includes books/reading material, indoor and outdoor games, Bibles and religious material, kitchenware and gift items, among others.

Living Waters is adding approximately 10,560 square feet of retail floor space into Elmira’s trade area to sell merchandise that would typically be offered within the core area, planning staff noted.

Planners for the firm noted the retail store is only one component, with Living Waters having some trouble finding a location that has zoning in place for all three of its needs. The Church Street property checks most of the boxes, right down to reusing the existing buildings.

Since its launch in 2004 in Linwood, Living Waters has expanded to four location, with a booming online business and a wholesale operation that provides material to some 100 retailers. It has now outgrown its original home

The Elmira proposal would see about a third of the current property – 8,410 square metres of 25,072 sq. m. – allocated to the Living Waters operation, with the rest forming part of the new residential subdivision that’s already received draft approval. The two existed buildings would be used for a warehouse (1,096 square metres or 11,797 square feet), retail store (981 sq. m. or 10,559 sq. ft.) and office space (140 sq. m. or 1,507 sq. ft.).

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