Setbacks quash pot plant rezoning applications

By Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Setbacks quash pot plant rezoning applications
Leafy marijuana plant with hairy bud at indoor cannabis farm

MORRISBURG – It has been a year since South Dundas passed a bylaw for regulating cannabis production facilities. This week, council rejected two applications that put that bylaw to a test.

Cannabis production facilities in the former Homestead Organics building at 45 Allison Avenue, and the former Auto Wonderland building at 13373 County Road 2 in Riverside Heights both sought rezoning and variances dealing with setbacks.

The municipality requires a minimum 300 metre setback for cannabis production facilities. Both applications were not compliant with the setback requirements.

At a public meeting held in late 2021, there were many objections raised against both facilities. Those cited included odour, and proximity to accommodations, tourist attractions, and residential areas.

SDG Director of Planning Peter Young recommended to council at its February 14 meeting to reject the Allison Avenue application citing resident and business objections, and being short 60 metres of the minimum set back. Municipal planners also recommended that council reject the rezoning for the County Road 2 application citing resident and business objections similar to the Allison Avenue application, and the need for multiple setbacks for the existing building.

“I’m not willing to change our setbacks,” Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner told council. “During the process I wish investors would do their homework and recognize the setbacks put into place before creating such chaos.”

Councillor Donald Lewis agreed saying he believes the municipality’s bylaw is sound. “I am not about to change the 300 metre [setback] myself. I think it is a very sufficient number enough where cannabis is grown.”

Councillor Archie Mellan called the application for a setback of less than 300 metres a “non-starter”.

“It’s 300 metres,” he said. “You don’t have it, you don’t get’er[sic].”

Mayor Steven Byvelds said that South Dundas opted for the setback as the minimum.

Talking specifically of the former Auto Wonderland building Byvelds said, “the location conflicts with many other uses that are already well established. It’s just not an area you’d want to put a facility that would cause issues down the road.”

The applicants for the two zoning applications can appeal the decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Council had planned to discuss an interim control bylaw which would block any new applications for cannabis processing plants for one year. That item was pulled from the agenda at the start of the meeting for discussion at the February 28 council meeting.

Councillor Lloyd Wells was absent from the meeting and did not participate remotely.

This article was originally written for and published in The Morrisburg Leader.

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