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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

New layout for the 8th Concession/North Talbot in Oldcastle proposed

An open house was held on Monday evening at the Ciociaro Club to discuss the new plan proposed for the around 50-acre property at the corner of the 8th Concession and North Talbot Road in Oldcastle. Pictured with one of the informational billboards on display during the meeting are Town of Tecumseh Planner Brian Hillman and Vincenzo Del Duca, one of three brothers who own the land.

by Sylene Argent

In January of 2008, after a three-day hearing, the Ontario Municipal Board found the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendment for the proposed industrial plan for Oldcastle, at an around50-acre agricultural property located at the 8th Concession and North Talbot Road, were not consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement that development sustain healthy, liveable, and resilient communities.

The order, at the time, was withheld for one year, allowing for appeal.

On Monday evening, a new layout for the land was presented for the community during an open house hosted at the Ciociaro Club.

Vincenzo Del Duca, one of three brothers who owns the parcel of land, noted a lot of work has been put into the property layout since the OMB hearing. The landowners sat down with the residents of Oldcastle, the appellants of the previous plan, and hired a planner they used, to work out what their vision was and why.

Residents of Oldcastle appealed the passing of the OPA and ZBA to the Ontario Municipal Board. The Town of Tecumseh passed the OPA and ZBA, and the County, the approval authority for the Town, approved the OPA.

After the OMB hearing, Del Duca said they worked with that planner for around three months. Through the re-planning process, he said he got around 95 percent of the planning complete but applied for, and was granted, a six-month extension to work on the remaining five percent.

Del Duca explained the new plan for the land includes a commercial block that is estimated to hold four to six stores or services at the southwester corner of the property, a limited area for estate-style housing, a subdivision that could include standard lot sizes and townhomes, and a storm retention pond that he said will be able to handle two back-to-back 100-year storms.

The design also includes a 2.5-km multi-use trail that extends around the perimeter of the property that would lead to Weston Park. A space in the design is also reserved for retirement living.

The buffer strip is planned to be 30-meters wide and extends from the commercial block, creating a barrier between the industrial area to the west and the proposed residential area to the east. There was a bit of an issue planning the buffer in the proposed plan for the land, Del Duca said. The buffer includes a 14-meter berm and a 13-meter drainage corridor.

The Town of Tecumseh, Del Duca said, had the foresight to include sanitary services right to the lot, so the future homes will be able to tie into that.

He is hopeful that by the fall, the zoning will be in place and the next steps can be taken.

Residents opposed to the previous industrial-only plan formed the group Friends of Oldcastle Development (FOOD), which had to prove Oldcastle was a community through the OMB hearing. FOOD member, Judy Wellwood-Robson, was at the open house and said she was happy the OMB noted Oldcastle was a community and that the Provincial Policy Statement applied to this property. She was also pleased with the new design and the process to develop it.

For the majority of her life, Wellwood-Robson has lived on a farm that has been in her family for nearly 190 years.

FOOD, at the time of the OMB hearing, wanted to see the property be used for residential, rather than for industrial purposes. There were concerns of health and safety, that an industrial development could destroy the connectivity between the residential areas located on either side of the discussed property, and with potential future traffic.

Since the OMB hearing, she said she and other residents met directly with the landowners at least five times and the meetings were professional with no blaming. She said everyone worked well together and were respectful as each took the time to speak to the issue.

“This was such a wonderful experience,” she said, adding she believes the process of putting together a planning committee for big projects should be used instead of residents only getting a few minutes to express concerns at a public council meeting.

“We’re feeling very happy,” Wellwood-Robson said of the new proposal for the land. “It means our next generation has a place to live and the community can sustain itself because of balance…If I want to downsize, I do not have to leave Oldcastle.”

Adding the residential area to the proposed design of the property, she believes, will put pressure on the Town of Tecumseh to push for residential zoning for other nearby areas currently undesignated.

Brian Hillman, Town Planner for the Town of Tecumseh, said issues or comments heard at the open house will be added to the report to be sent to Council for consideration. When Council makes a decision, it will be forwarded to the OMB. At that point, and issue could be ordered.

Hillman said he believes the design for the property is consistent with what the OMB had envisioned for the area.

The open house seemed to have solid interest from the community as around 60 attended just the first of two sessions on Monday evening.

Wellwood-Robson said she is using a slogan she urges other small communities could use, “Stronger communities form the foundation of a stronger municipality.”


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