The first of two major Ontario Municipal Board decisions concerning Guelph came down this morning with the announcement that the OMB has endorsed the City's plan to develop the brownfield commonly known as The Lafarge Site. Here's the press releases:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GUELPH, ON, January 13, 2010 – In a decision released this morning, the Ontario Municipal Board supported the City of Guelph’s position regarding the re-designation of the former Lafarge lands.
The triangular parcel is a vacant, underutilized brownfield site located on either side of Silvercreek Parkway, between Paisley Road and Waterloo Avenue and east of the Hanlon Expressway.
In 2008, Guelph City Council rejected an application by Silvercreek Guelph Developments Limited to develop a large retail centre on the property, but did direct staff and City advisors to participate in and report back to Council on any further discussion or mediation.
Through mediated sessions, Silvercreek Guelph Developments Limited modified its proposal to address the concerns of City Council. These modifications included a significant reduction in the retail floor space and restrictions of the location, size and phasing of this space. The changes also included the introduction of business park, residential components, and lands to be dedicated to the City for parks, trails and infrastructure such as stormwater management and roads. Holding zone provisions are also included to ensure that the infrastructure upgrades are completed.
The revised plan, with the support of the Howitt Park Neighbourhood Residents’ Association, was supported by Guelph City Council in 2009 through Minutes of Settlement that included modified amendments to Guelph’s Official Plan and Zoning by-law to accommodate the revised mixed-use development.
Armel Developments opposed the appeal made to the Ontario Municipal Board by Silvercreek Guelph Developments Limited at a 22-day hearing. Together with the Howitt Park Neighbourhood Residents’ Association and Silvercreek Developments Limited, the City was successful in demonstrating to the Board that the re-designation of the property, so that it can be developed as a mixed-used node, represents good planning and is in the public interest.
Armel was the sole holdout basically because the commercial area proposed, which may end up including a Costco, would be in direct competition with their commercial development at Imperial and Paisley, which includes the Mega-Zehrs.
It's a big, beautiful piece of open land, and I hate to see it go, but if area residents, as represented by the HPNRA, are endorsing the new mixed-use plan, then why not the rest of us? For me, I'd rather see infill get built on then tearing up whole stretches of green space on the outskirts of the city anyway.