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Wellesley church seeks room to grow; impact on farms a concern raised by neighbours

An expanding congregation has Maple View Mennonite Church looking for more space in the form of two acres of land from an adjacent farm property. Two other neighbours are worried that will have a negative impact on their own farm operations.

The church is located on a 5.75-acre property at 5074 Deborah Glaister Line, northwest of Wellesley village. Maple View is seeking official plan and zoning amendments to permit the acquisition of an additional two acres from the 100-acre farm at  5100 Deborah Glaister Line.

Overflow parking from the site currently spills over onto the road and into the church’s cemetery. The additional land will provide for both parking and a play area.

“Our plan at this point is to do one acre of parking lot, and as our church grows we’ll be paving it over more. The remainder is green space for our bible school kids, baseball, soccer and all that,” church trustee Gary Jantzi told Wellesley councillors meeting Tuesday night.

The application also calls for a reduced minimum distance separation (MDS) between the property and nearby livestock barn, to 340 metres from the required 486 metres, said township planner Geoff VanderBaaren during the public meeting to discuss the application.

Those setbacks were a concern to neighbouring farm owners Mike Erb and John Lang, who both said they fear the expanded church might impinge on the ability to raise livestock on their respective properties.

Erb, who farms at 5145 Deborah Glaister Line, was looking for a guarantee the changes at the church site would not restrict his options for livestock on the property.

The same was true for Lang, whose property is at 5075 Deborah Glaister Line. He also raised concerns about drainage from the church site onto his own property, a situation that could get worse with a larger paved surface allowing rain to run off.

 As well as an ongoing problem with rainwater runoff onto his property that has been an issue since the church was built.

“There’s a culvert that comes under the road to my place from the cemetery area at the church, and it does wash out part of my crop when it rains heavily,” said Lang, suggesting a stormwater management pond might be in order.

“It’s certainly effecting my land. When it rains heavily, it just gushes through there, and washes out what I’ve planted for a couple of hundred yards. That started mainly since they built this new church and added the parking lot.”

VanderBaaren noted the church would have to submit a site plan that includes drainage and grading.

While this week’s meeting was for information purposes, with a council decision awaiting a staff report at a later date, the neighbours’ issues were flagged by Coun. Carl Smit.

VanderBaaren said the issue could return to council as soon as month’s end.

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