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Large swath of trees and brush removed in preparation for proposed Point Edward subdivision

City is appealing zoning

The acreage is cleared for what could be Point Edward’s largest housing subdivision ever. But there’s lots of red tape that could delay development.

First off, the City of Sarnia is appealing Point Edward council’s support for the proposed subdivision at the west end of Exmouth Street next to the city/village boundary.

Last summer, Point Edward approved a zoning bylaw amendment to accommodate as many as 156 townhouses on a 23-acre (9.3-hectare) site across the street from the Cargill grain elevators in Sarnia.

The appeal cites the city’s concerns about the compatibility of industrial activity with a residential area, in particular the noise and the dust that Cargill can sometimes produce.

The grain elevators have operated near Sarnia’s riverfront for many decades while the land newly earmarked for residential development has been a wooded scrubland.

Concern has also been previously voiced about the city’s oversize-load corridor that is being established along Exmouth Street, down to the shipping docks along the St. Clair River, and how it will operate in conjunction with dense residential development.

The city’s appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal is scheduled to be heard in mid-September, according to Point Edward CAO Jim Burns.

“But we are hoping to have a negotiated solution before September,” he said.  “There are things you can do in the construction of houses to lower the impact of noise and dust.”

“And the developer and the village have discussed the possibility of a clause on registering title that states you understand you are buying a home close to a source of dust and noise.”

While negotiations between the city and the village continue, trees and brush on a large portion of the scrubland were removed in the last month.

Mounds of mud, logs and hills of sawdust can be seen from Exmouth Street along a large swath of flattened acreage.

Years ago, in preparation for development, former owner Paul Wicks paid for a study that concluded the area was non-native scrub and offered little value as a shelter or food source for birds and small animals. 

More recently, the area was used by squatters who erected makeshift shelters that were also removed in the last few months.

A numbered Ontario company represented by Sarnia’s John Stathis is the current owner and is conducting updates to traffic and noise studies, according to Burns. 

If a solution to the city’s concerns can be found, plans for the subdivision can move ahead, Burns said.  However, a site plan to council will need to be approved first.

And another significant hurdle exists that’s related to servicing.

Point Edward’s waste water plant has the capacity to handle the entire proposed subdivision, but upgrades are needed on the pipes between the plant on Alexandra Avenue and the proposed subdivision on Exmouth.

That is an expensive project and would require Venetian Boulevard to be torn up, Burns said.

The village is already preparing the paperwork to get provincial money to assist with that infrastructure issue. 

“In most communities there would be development charges for these kinds of things but Point Edward doesn’t have development charges,” said Burns. 

It’s likely the new subdivision would be built in phases, he added.

 “Considering Point Edward now has 900 residential units, this would add another one-sixth to what we have once all 156 units are built,” said Burns. That’s about a 15% increase in the number of homes in the village.


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