Hershey Estates development gets zoning amendment approval

The required zoning bylaw amendment for the proposed Hershey Estates development has been approved, but it comes with strings attached.

Councillors added a one-year sunset clause to the approval in an effort to get movement on the property, located on Centralia Avenue North. The subdivision initially received draft plan approval back in 2000. Following several extensions and modifications, the plan eventually settled in at 16 estate residential lots.

“The conditions of draft plan approval were revised to include a condition requiring the owner to complete a revised EIS (environmental impact study), and to submit a zoning by-law amendment to rezone all portions of the 30-metre buffer to the Six Mile Creek Wetland Complex and the 100 Year Flood Plain to an Environmental Protection category,” a staff report reads.

At an earlier public meeting, residents shared concerns about drainage and flooding in the area.

“They (development proponents) talk about the ditches on Centralia needing to be cleaned out, but I can’t get over all those pictures,” said Councillor Ann-Marie Noyes, referencing the presentations from those residents.

“This is partly a ditch problem, but this is a huge problem, this is a swamp.”

She suggested she couldn’t in good conscience support the proposal, admitting that while she’s no engineer she’s not confident issues with drainage will be solvable.

“I know this is going to cause major problems down the road,” she said.

However, since the subdivision received draft approval–the latest extension will come before council again in August–Anamika Dilwaria, the Town’s director of planning, said it would be difficult to turn down the zoning bylaw amendment. She did point out that more land will be included in the environmental protection area, which would theoretically help the water issues.

“Based on staff opinion we are increasing the size of the environmental protection area so there will be more land that will be protected now and which will take care of the wetland feature,” she said, adding there will also be further opportunities for the Town to work with developers to mitigate those issues.

Credit: Town of Fort Erie | Facebook

The sunset clause, something council has been bringing up regularly in recent development discussions, was welcomed, with Councillor Nick Dubanow saying he would “enthusiastically support” it. This development in particular, he said, has been coming back for extensions for years, and a sunset clause could finally get some movement.

Council will discuss the draft plan approval again later this summer, at which point they could attach a similar sunset clause to bring the draft plan and zoning amendment into alignment.

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