Sandy Casselman
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

MORRISBURG – Three Municipality of South Dundas politicians recently voted to deny a zoning amendment application that would have seen a mixed commercial/residential building erected at Morrisburg’s Industrial Park.

“I’ve reviewed and listened to the submissions. I do agree with the planners that there is need for residential, but this is just clearly, in my opinion, the wrong spot and I think it would create a conflict of use down the road,” Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner said. “We only have one industrial park in Morrisburg and an industrial park that had a $1.5-million investment by the residents of South Dundas and I would like to protect that investment.”

As owner of the property located at the corner of County Road 2 and Industrial Road, Coun. Lloyd Wells declared a conflict of interest. This left the decision to Gardner, Mayor Steven Byvelds, and councillors Don Lewis and Archie Mellan. During the May 25 council meeting, Byvelds, Gardner, and Lewis voted against the request.

“I supported this development the first time around,” Mellan said. “Is it the ideal location? Maybe not, but one thing I have heard over the years is the need for affordable and available rental units.

Based on provincial, regional, and municipal policies, municipal planning consultant Erin Reed recommended denying the zoning amendment request. She said approval of the request would negatively impact current and future industrial park business.

“The proposed mixed-use building is not compatible with the surrounding land uses,” Reed said in her report. “Based on our review, Vacant Parcel D, Xenopus Inc., Enstar Holdings Inc., and Sybron Canada LP would be limited to Class I industrial uses, while the surrounding industrial lots would be limited to Class II industrial uses if the proposed amendment is approved.”

While council members each made a brief statement before voting, the main discussion took place at the previous council meeting on May 10. It was just before the start of that session that a public meeting was held giving residents a chance to voice their opinions.

“I guess it’s kind of a difference of opinion, but I think that this proposed mixed-use building does not further constrain your industrial park and there’s only a couple of lots that are close to this site that are not developed and it’s my opinion that those are already constrained by the inn facility that’s there,” Tracy Zander of ZanderPlan Inc. said. Zander said she has been working with the purchaser of the property for several years. Made in mid-2020, the original proposal was for a residential unit. When that was denied, a new plan for a mixed-use commercial/residential building was presented.

Only three South Dundas residents spoke at the public meeting, each with property in the industrial park. While they agreed more housing options are needed, they said the Industrial Park is not the right place.

“They claim there won’t be an issue with noise, but if you go back and sit on that road and watch the 200 trucks that go by there every day, you notice that there is lots of noise. That would be an issue that would come to council,” Brian Veinotte said, noting it could lead to current businesses being ordered to reroute traffic in the future.

He said there was also a safety issue. Increased pedestrian use in an area with so many large trucks moving through could be hazardous, he said.

“I agree with the concern of traffic,” Alexandra Parker said, noting that her business is close to the proposed apartment. “We have a smell, we have noise, we rely on the trucking company in the area, and it would be very detrimental to have any sort of restrictions on when we can operate or what we have to do to operate.”

Parker disagreed with Zander. She said the McIntosh Country Inn and Conference Centre is not the same as an apartment building because guests at the inn stay for a few nights, not every night.

“We are not opposed at all to new business or housing in the community. We feel that would be a great thing. We just don’t feel that this is the spot for it,” she said.

Cole Veinotte was the third resident to speak against the zoning amendment. He said he was impressed with the concept, but the industrial park was not the right location.

“Frankly, we all agree that the concept is admirable, it’s great and we’d really like to see it somewhere here in Morrisburg, but just not in that particular location,” he said. “Our position remains unchanged as far as the impact it could have on potential development, the impact it could have on ours and other businesses’ current development, and the safety factors with the traffic – foot traffic and vehicular traffic. The McIntosh is a commercial operation, it’s transient guests that stay there. A hotel, an inn, or a motel has never impeded the construction of international airports, for example. They actually tend to be built all the way around them. People aren’t living there for extended periods of time. They don’t have to put up with the smell, the noise, the traffic, or anything else.”

Zander said the lease agreement could include a clause informing tenants of the smell and noise issues. She said this would eliminate the potential for complaints.

“I truly wish that we had this building somewhere else because it makes lots of sense. It just doesn’t make sense there,” Brian Veinotte said.