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Council approves zone change to permit sawmill

Controversial plan for property near Linwood sees smooth sailing this time


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A contentious issue last time it was discussed, a Linwood sawmill won quick approval from Wellesley councillors meeting July 9.

Where neighbours were abuzz when the proposal was aired in April, there was little ado last week, paving the way for the operation of a sawmill on a 93-acre agricultural property at 5055 Ament Line, adjacent to the Linwood settlement area.

Due to early input, however, the township did highlight dust and noise issues in assessing the application for a zoning change submitted by Wayne Sauder.

Because the noise was the most common complaint expressed by delegations, a noise assessment was prepared. The assessment not only reflected the traditional measure of sound level in decibels but also took tonality into account. Friedman Street properties that back onto the site, where neighbours are affected, showed 42 – 45 dBA; the provincial limit is 50 dBA. The Region of Waterloo reviewed the updated noise study and found it complies with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks noise limit during daytime hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There are clear minimum setback uses outlined, including provisions that the mill will be 305 metres away from commercial or custom grain handling and storage facilities, as well as any former and active waste sites.

Addressing another common complaint, a report from township planner Geoff Vaanderbaren noted that any potential impact on property values isn’t part of the process.

“The courts and the OMB/LPAT have noted consistently that property values are not a land use planning concern,” the report notes. Furthermore, the township does not determine land values, as that function lies with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

The application was somewhat complicated by the fact that Sauder does not own or farm the property, but instead rents it. Residents earlier raised concerns that granting him a zone change would set a precedent. But Vaanderbaren’s report downplayed that prospect: “each situation is considered on its own merits and approval of this application should not be considered setting precedence.”

None of the assessing agencies, such as the region and Grand River Conservation Authority, raised any concerns about the zoning bylaw amendment.

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