Dawn-Euphemia greenhouse OK to use more land, build dorms

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A giant greenhouse project in Dawn-Euphemia has taken another step forward.
Greenhill Produce from Chatham-Kent bought 100 acres at the corner of Oil Heritage Road and Edys Mill Line in 2016. It plans to build an $80 to $100 million operation to meet the growing demand for either peppers, tomatoes or cucumbers.
Owner Justin Geertsma recently went to Dawn-Euphemia council for a minor variance. Normally, property owners can cover about 20 per cent of their land with buildings but Mayor Al Broad says the greenhouse project would require 44 per cent land coverage.
The township approved the request at its April 18 meeting.
It also approved up to eight dormitories on the site for workers who may be at the greenhouse complex.
That concerned Martin and Julie Stonehouse who live next to the site.
“We did not purchase this property to have commercial greenhouses surrounding our property,” they write in a letter submitted to the Committee of Adjustment. “We are concerned about what it will do to the property value and whether we would be able to sell at a later date.
“We are also concerned about up to eight dormitories for migrant workers close to our property.”
Lambton County planning staff also wondered about where the dormitories would go saying the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority would have to review the plan before final approval to make sure there was not a flood risk.
Broad says it was also a good opportunity for neighbours to ask questions about the project. Some wanted to know if they would be subjected to bright lights at night – Broad says they were told that wouldn’t happen because peppers use natural light.
Others were concerned about increased traffic. Geertsma told the group about two or three transports would leave the facility with product after the first phase of construction.
Broad also told The Independent it appears there will be enough water to feed the first phase of the greenhouse project.
“If this project does go to 100 acres, it is going to require some significant infrastructure investments for water,”  he added.
Council says it will approve each phase of the construction based on the availability of water.
Construction is expected to start in 2018.
Up to 300 jobs could be created once the entire project is complete according to Geertsma.

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