Industrial rezoning application raises questions about notification process

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Industrial rezoning issues near the Sarnia property southeast of Penny Shewfelt have been put to bed, but the Sarnia native said the city should review how it notifies people of these change applications land use.

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Concerns over industrial rezoning near Penny Shewfelt’s southeast Sarnia property have been allayed, but the Sarnia native said the city should review how it notifies people about these change-of-use applications lands.

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“It has to be looked at one way or another,” said Shewfelt, 57.

While she was briefed in December of Oakville-based Procor’s $20 million expansion plans that would have included a new access road buffered by a berm, wall and trees immediately south of the fence in her backyard, few others in her neighborhood have done it, she says.

Procor recently withdrew its rezoning application after neighborhood opposition, and council voted in late February to accept.

“Just not having it in my back yard is a brilliant concept, and I’m very happy with that,” said Shewfelt, who spoke out in January against the council against the request.

His neighbour, Mario Pimentel, whose back fence is also believed to have been affected, said he received no notification or heard of the project until council in January had already given its approval in principle.

“It’s their property. I realize that,” he said of the business, which city staff say is now planning to expand to the southern section of Procor-owned 725 Procor Dr. which is already zoned for use in a railcar repair yard.

Noise and emissions issues remain, neighbors said.

“If they’re going to do it, they can do it,” Pimentel said, “but don’t put it right in our backyards.”

Sarnia is required under provincial planning law to notify anyone within 120 yards of the boundary of the property in question, planning director Eric Hyatt said.

“It’s not a very big distance,” Shewfelt said, adding that the size of the property in question should be considered in determining how well notice is provided.

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More than 30 properties received mail notifications about the rezoning request meeting, according to a map provided by Hyatt.

Any property affected by the red line, within 120 yards of 725 Procor Dr., was on the list to receive a notice of application for rezoning from Procor, Planning Director Eric Hyatt said.  (via City of Sarnia)
Any property affected by the red line, within 120 yards of 725 Procor Dr., was on the list to receive a notice of application for rezoning from Procor, Planning Director Eric Hyatt said. (via City of Sarnia) jpg, SO

Why at least one did not receive a notice is unclear, he said, but letters for each property have been sent.

Asked if the legal 120m notification requirement was sufficient for properties in sparser areas, Mayor Mike Bradley said he would suggest council ask for a staff report looking at the options.

“I think it’s worth looking into,” he said, noting the city meets provincial requirements.

“There are always lessons to be learned from anything,” he said.

Hyatt said he doesn’t know if other municipalities exceed the legal requirements, which he says vary depending on the type of request.

“We follow the requirements of the law for each type,” he said.

Rick Januskiewicz, who also lives north of the proposed expansion, noted that he received a notification, as did his father who lives next door.

A man who answered the phone for the neighboring property and declined to give his name initially told The Observer he had not received notification.

John Cormier, one of Heritage Park’s neighbors who opposes the Procor project, said he wanted assurances that no expansion will proceed.

“Assure us the plan is dead or will be moved to a more suitable industrial area,” he said in an email to Bradley, advisers, Rooney, The Observer and others.

Procor spokesman Dan Rooney did not respond to a voicemail and email requesting comment.

Ken Maaten of Kemco Engineering and Construction Ltd., Procor’s agent, has referred all comments to Procor.

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