Official plan worries remain as vote looms

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There are still a few concerns about Lambton County’s draft official plan but the warden is hopeful it will be approved Aug. 2.
Lambton County planners have been updating the document which serves as a road map for development for the region for nearly six years now.
During the first round of consultations, farm groups voiced concerns about how some of the plan would affect farms.
Later, the county has faced stiff opposition from landowners over the increased number of wetland areas included in the draft plan. Members of the Concerned Landowners Legal Defence worried they would lose the ability to farm the land or build near it.
It was later found the map from the Ministry of Natural Resources was inaccurate. But the CLLD still has a list of about 30 outstanding concerns including a map outlining agricultural areas.
So county politicians formed a special committee to go over all the proposed changes including a controversial request from Plympton-Wyoming to turn 800 acres of farm land into an area for future housing.
Lambton County Warden Bill Weber chaired what he hopes will be the final meeting of that committee Monday.
The group reviewed some of the comments sent in by municipalities in the last month.
While many communities voiced approval for the draft to move forward, the City of Sarnia again voiced its concern about Plympton-Wyoming’s plan for new residential development.
Alan Shaw, Sarnia’s planning director, wrote including the 800 acres of residential development area “would give Plympton-Wyoming a disproportionately large share of the county’s new residential unit supply in comparison to its share of development activity.
“Increasing the supply of residential land from 55 to 120 years would add to the over supply of designated lands in Plympton-Wyoming; far above the 20 year supply of land required by the Provincial Policy Statement.”
Weber expects that issue will be a hot topic on Aug. 2.
Several municipalities also voiced concern about the Natural Heritage System which many fear will put extra restrictions on the use of farm land. Weber says the committee has made some changes to the Natural Heritage System, however he believes many people misunderstand that the guidelines will only apply when there is new development and won’t change the current use of land.
Weber hopes any concerns can be fixed before the draft document is passed and sent to the province for approval. “I would rather have a Lambton County solution to address the concerns than a provincially mandated solution. I don’t believe the province will address our concerns as well as a Lambton County solution would.”

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