MORRISBURG – The public meeting for the official rezoning of the Dutch Meadows subdivision in Morrisburg served notice that the new development was not a matter of if but when.

Residents packed the council chambers as they were given the opportunity to voice their concerns over the plan to rezone the plot of land from rural to residential to allow for the construction of 74 single detached dwellings, 31 freehold semi-detached dwellings and three condominium buildings.

Several stepped forward and noted that the lack of drainage in an already swampy area, missing fence lines and a lack of green space were primary concerns.

Mayor Steven Byvelds addressed those points saying that a more comprehensive plan with those details would be forthcoming.

“The proponents will be bringing a subdivision plan to South Dundas and drainage is included in that plan and must be adhered to,” he said.

The largest voice of dissention came from resident Ron Wilson who decried the loss of prime agricultural land to a sprawling subdivision.

Located off County Road 2, the new development is the largest single housing development in quite some time and will undoubtedly change the face of the village. What once was acres of corn and soybeans will now become sprawl, a reality that was difficult to swallow for Wilson and others in the agricultural community. He went on to site a provincial policy that gave credence to his argument.

“The provincial policy statement from 2014 specifically says that prime agricultural areas shall be protected for long term use for agriculture. Note that word shall. It imposes an obligation on the local officials,” he said.

Byvelds pointed out that changes to the Official Plan Amendment (OPA) made in 2014 designated the land in question as part of the urban settlement area after consultation with local municipal housing groups and agricultural organzations such as Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

“We aren’t going back to make it agriculture any more. You can sit here and object to it all you want, but those days are gone,” said Byvelds. “Tonight we’re talking about the residential use of that land. That has been approved already. Your ship has sailed. I’m an agriculturist too. I don’t like good land going to waste either, but I’m also a politician that knows we need to expand Morrisburg. At that time the DFA did not object, OFA didn’t object, ministry of municipal housing didn’t object, OMAFRA didn’t object. You were the only standing person who has objected to this forever. It’s time to let it go.”

The explanation served to outline that arguing over land use is futile and that it’s now just a matter of how the new residential area will meld with the current community and the specific design characteristics that will be employed.

The 27-minute public meeting was closed after no more concerns were brought forward and council voted unanimously in favour of the zoning changes.