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Grandview Drive residents press council to maintain truck traffic bylaw

Calling past transgressions a one-time incident that won’t be repeated, a Conestogo-area farm operator wants Woolwich to reverse the prohibition of heavy vehicles on Grandview Drive. Those living in the residential subdivision have no interest in seeing that happen.

The township prohibited heavy trucks on the tar-and-chip road in a Nov. 20, 2018 council decision. That move came after numerous complaints about a string of dump trucks entering and exiting the property, which fronts on Katherine Street. Along with ripping up the roadway, the trucks raised safety concerns among the residents of the quiet street.

Now, the owner of the farm property, Draizen Prica, is asking for the traffic controls to be lifted, saying the problems two years ago stemmed from trucking in large quantities of fill to prepare the agricultural parcel for conversion to a plum orchard.

While neighbours push for Prica to use the Katherine Street entrance to his property, the operator says that access route is unsuitable for heavy vehicles.

The existing laneway to his house crosses a small bridge over a pond, and the structure would not carry farm vehicles, he told Woolwich councillors meeting Tuesday night via a video feed.

“The problem is the access to my property,” he said, noting the planners he’s hired have looked at alternative access points from Katherine Street.

Because most of the frontage onto the regional road is wetland, the space is protected by the Grand River Conservation Authority, which doesn’t appear interested in allowing a roadway to access the farm parcel, said Hugh Handy, a planner with the GSP Group.

But neighbours weren’t convinced, urging councillors to reject Prica’s request to undo the prohibitions on truck traffic.

It’s up to the property owner to find an access point that doesn’t involve Grandview Drive, argues resident Lee Calenda. “That is the cost of doing business.”

By moving heavy vehicles along Grandview Drive, the farm operation would be forcing the neighbours to bear the costs associated with the business, added neighbour Keenan Courtis.

“The Prica amendment takes everything bad about this bylaw amendment and makes it worse,” he said. “It would pass the noise, the dirt, the danger and the costs … onto the 23 residences of a quiet suburb.”

Another Grandview Drive resident, Yogi Bednjicki, said the farm had been in operation for years without any concerns prior to the current owner. Prica’s earlier actions should give councillors pause in dealing with the request for restrictions to be lifted, she added.

“The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour,” she said, following up with a quote from Star Trek’s Spock: “Logic dictates the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Eric Davis, a lawyer representing Prica, said the problems that occurred two years ago were an aberration, with his client simply wishing to operate a farm with the same kind of access as in the past.

“The intention is for that not to be repeated,” said Davis of the trucking woes from two years ago, adding Prica wants to be in compliance with the bylaw. “We don’t want to use Grandview Drive unlawfully.”

Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who questioned Prica’s statement a Katherine Street access wasn’t feasible, said the current bylaw doesn’t block access to the farm property, but only prohibits heavy trucks, as in other parts of the township.

Davis countered that while the township wasn’t physically blocking access, the bylaw restricts access needed to carry out the agricultural operation.

Councillors made no decisions on the matter, but signalled their intent to put the matter to a vote on August 11.

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