Heavy vehicles are prohibited, by the owner of a farm property near Conestogo can continue to access the site from a laneway off of Grandview Drive. Residents, however, would prefer the operation use only a driveway from the property’s frontage on Katherine Street.
The neighbours’ arguments held some sway with councillors, but a revised bylaw restricts only heavy trucks, allowing farm vehicles such as tractors to use the Grandview Drive access point.
The revisions approved by council Tuesday night allow oversized farm vehicles to access the site, easing restrictions put in place in November 2018. The bylaw was then revised following numerous complaints from neighbours about a constant string of dump trucks entering and exiting the property, ripping up the tar-and-chip road and posing a safety hazard to residents.
The owner of the farm property at 506 Katherine St. S., Drazen Prica, had requested the removal of all restrictions on heavy vehicles using Grandview Drive.
As when the issue was discussed two weeks earlier, a number of neighbours told councillors meeting Tuesday night by video conference that they remain suspicious about Prica’s intentions and willingness to cooperate with residents.
Yogi Bednjicki, for examped, disputed Prica’s claims about the roadway to the farm property, arguing access was traditionally from Katherine Street. She said the Grandview Drive access was not for the farm parcel, but for a potential future expansion of the subdivision that was built by the then-owner of the farm in the 1970s.
As with other residents of the 23-home subdivision, she also challenged Prica’s assertion that a second Katherine Street entrance wasn’t an option due to restrictions from the Grand River Conservation Authority and construction problems.
Resident Doug Zister, an engineer, said his take was that the existing Katherine Street entrance could be used to access the farm property, perhaps with some strengthening of the existing culvert.
He added that since the grading was changed on the farm property – the result of the many loads of fill transported to the site – there have been problems with drainage, water runoff and ice formation on Grandview Drive, calling on council to reject any further loosening of restrictions.
“Access to Katherine Street is key, to my mind,” said neighbour Paul Parker, noting he supports the farming operation – a plum orchard – but not the family’s other holdings, including a construction business. “We should be able to resolve the access issue.”
Other neighbours, including Keenan Courtis, argues that Prica had misrepresented the situation in some claims, including the Katherine Street entrance. Rather than technical issues, he simply doesn’t want farm traffic passing by his home, but is happy to have it pass by the 23 residents of Grandview Drive, said Courtis.
Coun. Patrick Merlihan expressed concerns about some of the information presented by residents, calling for a deeper review.
“Let’s come out on Katherine Street from day-one and settle this,” suggested Coun. Murray Martin.
For his part, Prica said he wants to be a good neighbour, offering to meet with residents any time to talk about their concerns.
Both he and his lawyer, Eric Davis, stressed that the problems with truck traffic were limited to the delivery of fill, and would not be repeated.
Davis said the farm-related traffic would be “exceedingly minimal.”
While some councillors raised concerns, director of infrastructure services Jared Puppe said the township can’t negate legal access via Grandview Drive, but can limit weight of vehicles using the access point.
“We’re comfortable with the bylaw as is,” he said of the changes.