A NOTE OF CAUTION FOR VALLEY VOICES MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS
There is an inaccuracy in the following Cobourg Star article involving the quote from our legal counsel Virginia MacLean, Q. C. It was determined that we would not be successful on the appeals only after the witness statements had been obtained from our four experts in early October 2006 as required under the OMB Procedural Order.
FROM THE COBOURG STAR, FRIDAY NOVEMBER 24,2006
One roadblock faced by pit developer falls
By Valerie MacDonald
Local News - Friday, November 24, 2006 @ 09:00
Clean-up of the buried, banned insecticide, DDT, is one of the major benefits to come out of construction of a proposed sand-and-gravel pit between Shelter Valley Road and Turk Road, says the lawyer for Shelter Valley Aggregates who won a partial victory at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) yesterday.
And if more long-buried DDT is found on the pit site while extraction is underway it, too, will be removed to meet environment ministry standards, lawyer Stan Stein promised during the hearing which concluded yesterday in Grafton.
If not for this impending development, no one would be cleaning up the DDT, buried decades ago in an area near the closed Vernonville landfill north of Turk Road West near the southwest boundary of the pit site, the hearing was told.
OMB chair Jason Chee-Hing removed one of three hurdles to the pit development, as requested by Mr. Stein, when he orally dismissed appeals to the required rezoning for the aggregate operation by the citizens group, Valley Voices, and neighbouring farmers Margaret and Henricus Jansen. They dropped their objections in favour of an extensive list of noise, dust, water and woodlot protections and controls.
The Jansens also won a financial settlement which the OMB chair ruled would be kept confidential.
However, Mr. Chee-Hing reserved his decision on recommending the proposed site operations plan and conditions to the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is responsible for licensing pits under the Aggregates Act. He also reserved decision on the easement consent required for the pit's private access road and its intersection with Turk Road East.
"I will issue the decision as soon as possible," Mr. Chee-Hing promised.
But even with these decisions, there is an environmental assessment process Shelter Valley Aggregates must go through to build Turk Road East to connect with County Road 25. It must be built to municipal road standards before a "holding" designation is removed from the pit.
And the DDT must be removed, meeting all environmental ministry approvals, before work on the site can begin.
A May 18, 2006, environment ministry letter filed with the hearing states that Shelter Valley Aggregates Ltd. "has engaged the services of a qualified consultant who has recently completed thermal imaging of the site to fully delineate the exact location of the buried material.
"The consultant is currently preparing a written report on their findings and once this information becomes available, Shelter Valley Aggregates Ltd. will be promptly proceeding with the removal of the (DDT) material," Ministry of the Environment, Peterborough District, supervisor Allan Oberholzer stated in the May letter.
Valley Voices lawyer Virginia MacLean said soon after the fight began and consultants were hired by the citizens group is became apparent they would not be able to stop the pit going in. The township's Official Plan permitted it, even before the rezoning application was requested, and development of aggregate is a permitted use in rural areas under provincial planning regulations, she said.
She started to delineate problems with the township's public consulting process when township lawyer Wayne Fairbrother leapt to his feet.
"There has been no evidence about this," he said. "If this is going to turn into (township council) bashing then I'll sit down."
But, continued Mr. Fairbrother, if this is about problems between some members of Valley Voices and their lawyer that should be handled in a different forum.
Mr. Chee-Hing interrupted and told Ms. MacLean to continue, and she did, outlining the list of concerns and concessions her group addressed and won from the pit developer.
The negotiations done "quietly" with Shelter Valley Aggregates were undertaken in the "best interests of the ratepayers," she said, reacting to criticism from some members of Valley Voices and Concerned Citizens of Northumberland that the objectors had caved in.
Ms. MacLean also praised the agreement to create a community liaison committee which will meet annually, at minimum, to review reports monitoring various aspects of the pits operations and the surrounding wells in the area.
"We have something I believe will work."
The lawyer also asked the OMB to ensure the settlement with Valley Voices was a public document so it can be reviewed by anyone, unlike the Jansens' agreement, which is now sealed.