Mono committee postpones action on bid to expand pit

July 16, 2014   ·   1 Comments

By Tabitha Wells – Mono residents living near the large St. Marys gravel pit south of 5 Sideroad, near the Orangeville Fairgrounds, can breathe a sigh of relief for the moment, as an application by the pit’s owners, Brian Murphy and Glen Schnarr and Associates  Inc., to expand it has been deferred to a later meeting of the town’s Committee of Adjustment.

The application, in the guise of a minor variance to the existing zoning, would expand the pit by moving a property line closer to nearby homes and adjoining two properties. But according to a report for the Town from Stouffville and Associates, some questions needed to be answered before moving forward.

“I think we need to be clear on the entirety of the application, and right now I don’t feel we’re at a point where we should go forward,” explained committee chairperson Randy Mould.

“I felt there were some valid requests in this report, and I personally would like to receive more information. I think there is a muddle going on with through these facts and we need time to sift through that and figure out what we need to do.”

Despite protest from the applicants, the Committee of Adjustment felt more information was needed before they could proceed with approval or denial of the application.

“In all of my time on the committee we have never deferred, but I believe this is a case where we should defer,” said committee member Bob McCrea.

“If we defer this tonight, tomorrow morning and each day going forward, St. Marys [Cement Group] is still going to keep mining aggregate. If we defer this, it doesn’t stop what’s going on right now.”

The only thing the brakes would be put on, pointed out the rep for St. Marys, would be the transaction between St. Marys and the Murphys, pushing back their plans to proceed. According to Mr. McCrea, however, those plans were not compelling enough to provide reason why the transaction needed to be settled at the Tuesday evening meeting.

The concerns raised from the land severance application are less about the specific severance than about an application by St. Marys to dig below the water line. They contend their current pit is nearly mined out, and without being able to go below the water line, they would have to begin land rehabilitation sooner than they would like.

“I understand that St. Marys has agreed to rehabilitate the land to agricultural in seven to eight years, but we’ve heard that before and it hasn’t happened,” pointed out Gerald Reid.

“I’ll be quite frank, I don’t believe we should be going under the water line.”

While both parties present for the discussion of the application insisted that there would be no change in the noise level, residents of the area are not convinced, which leads to one concern the Committee would like addressed.

Without the creation of a proper berm (which would need to include trees to help increase the sound barrier), the noise level would grow once the operation proceeded below the water line.

“We’re in a bit of a pickle or awkward situation,” said committee member Jamie Richards.

“On one hand it’s simply a severance. It’s not a big deal, but I think it is a big deal because of all the stuff that’s going on around it. The northern part should start to be rehabilitated and there’s no excuse for why it’s not happening.

“If we give them the rubber stamp, we’re telling them basically  – go to it.”

He added that the residents have to see the operation every day from Hurontario Street, and they don’t want to see something like that moving closer to their homes.

“A company of the size of St. Marys has bought that for one reason, to go underground. I have a pile of questions and concerns and it’s hard to move ahead with a decision with all that background noise.”

Karen Bennett, who was representing the pit owners at the meeting, contended that the issues with St. Marys should not be considered pertinent to the request for the land severance application, and should not be the cause of the deferral.

“I don’t think a deferral is necessary today, and the questions in the report can be dealt with outside of this committee,” said Ms. Bennett. “The rest can be dealt with through St. Marys, but it is outside of this application.”

She reiterated that the two applications are completely separate issues and should not be dealt with as one.

However, the Committee expressed   concerns that while they are two separate issues, the two are connected, and that going forward with one without the proper information would lead the process of approval to the next.

“It’s important for ourselves to have the deferral so we can get the information that we need to make the right decision,” said Mr. Mould.

“I would hate to think that we made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons. We need this deferral so we can go over the additional information and make the decision without any personal bias, and with proper, informed facts.”

Readers Comments (1)

  1. DonnaB says:

    There is no surprise when a pit or quarry is running out of aggregate — companies know for years and plan accordingly. Some companies in fact buy aging licences gambling that Ontario’s Aggregate Resources Act is on their side and that they can take a decade to bully a local community into allowing expansion. So when a community initially welcomes an aggregate operation with a light at the end of the tunnel they have no idea that over time the tunnel will be lengthened and that the light will move far out of reach – maybe even for their children. They also don’t know that they will have to tolerate more and more damage to their air, water, flora, fauna, peace and enjoyment of their community. If you want rehabilitation demand it now or you will never see it. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.


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