by Chris Pickup

A new proposed subdivision for the lands in Hagersville abutting the Lafarge quarry has raised quite a few concerns in the community.

The development, submitted to the county for approval by Gardens Communities (Hagersville) (Empire),  proposes some 335 single-detached homes in total, slated to be built in two phases.

Phase 1 will consist of a maximum of 148 single-detached dwellings located behind a strip of existing single-detached dwellings fronting onto the north side of King Street east. Extensions to Athens Street and David Street will serve the community. It will also have a stormwater management pond/park.

Councillor Leroy Bartlett asked about safety of the retention ponds in the parks.  He questioned some technology new to the county but proven elsewhere.

Basically a sawtooth road surface directs rainwater into swales on either side where water is supposed to soak into the ground before it gets to the retention pond, or in a severe weather event where the swales can’t cope, is directed into the retention pond. Bartlett wryly asked whether they had thought about Haldimand clay, which is impervious.

Phase two presents a major problem. It is in direct conflict with the quarry buffer zone of 300 metres, measured from the licenced boundary to residential property line, and county staff have said it will not proceed until that conflict is addressed.

Lafarge have made it clear the buffer will not be changed, nor addressed. The company’s Land Manager Carol Siemiginowski, P. Eng sent a letter to the county in December noting the company has serious concerns with respect to the development as it relates to separation distance between uses.

“From our review of historical information on the Quarry and the Environmental Noise and Vibration Impact Study that was completed March 21, 2006, we note that the site conditions along the south boundary of the Quarry have not substantially changed since this time. Lafarge’s position regarding potential future activity is similarly unchanged. Lafarge currently has the right to operate the quarry within the licensed boundary, including the area immediately north of the proposed residential development and may choose to do so at any time.”

Nevertheless, councillors debated around the issue for some time. Mayor Ken Hewitt snarked that quarries hinder the county’s development. “Development helps the community … aggregates in Hagersville are slowing growth.”

CAO Dan Boyle insulted Lafarge by wondering “Are they keeping a card in their pocket just because they can?”

Councillor Tony Dalimonte agreed with the mayor that aggregates have a big impact on Hagersville, but noted there are other properties in the area drawing interest from developers.

Maybe the County should consider why Hagersville is the size it is. Could it possibly be because aggregate extraction has been big business over the years, providing jobs for people in the community. After all, houses are no good without jobs to go with them.

And a member of the Hagersville Chamber of Commerce has privately fumed at the “arrogance” of the developer in seeking to breach the buffer zone.

Staff has been directed to inform council when draft approval for the  plan of subdivision has been issued.