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Latest in Official Plan open houses held by the town

Official Plan Review meeting


The town is updating its Official Plan (OP) and held another open house last week to gather public input.

A large crowd attended the meeting, held in the lobby of the Libro Centre last Tuesday evening, and it featured a presentation from manager of planning services Chris Aspila and project manager and senior planner from Dillon Consulting Amy Farkas. Aspila stated there are several other plans that are part of the OP such as a land needs assessment, urban structure plan, transportation master plan, economic development community improvement plan, Howard Industrial Park District Secondary Plan and County of Essex OP review.

More public meetings will be held on the project, Aspila added. Town council was also given an update Tuesday night, with the meeting being held after this issue of the River Town Times went to press.

A public meeting was held last July that saw a low turnout, but there was a tornado warning in the area that night that may have kept attendance down. A Talk the Burg survey was held in July and August last year.

An Official Plan is a guiding policy document that provides a framework for growth, development and protection of built and natural heritage, Farkas pointed out. She noted the document directs where different types of land uses would go and how they connect to roads, trails, parks and open spaces.

“The current Official Plan was adopted in 2009,” Farkas told the crowd.

There have been five OP amendments since then, she added.

Municipalities are required to update their OP every five years. Farkas said there have been “key changes” to provincial policies that have to be addressed.

“Once we get through the Official Plan process, we’ll start to look at the zoning bylaw,” she said.

Creating a new Official Plan is a four-phase process, with Farkas stating they are through two phases and third and fourth phases including creating a draft OP, having another open house and then creating and council adopting a final Official Plan.

Top five themes identified in previous meetings and surveys agriculture, growth planning, urban design and healthy communities, housing and environment and climate change. Exploration should be done on attracting industrial and commercial development, rehabilitation of extractive industrial sites, aligning tourism with the town’s strategic plan, safety for pedestrians and cyclists, infrastructure to keep up with growth, balancing needs of urban and rural Amherstburg, public recreation amenities, heritage conservation and robust greenhouse policies.

Aspila agreed Official Plans should be updated every five years and zoning bylaws every ten years. He said OP’s are more of a high level document while the zoning bylaw is a more detailed document, noting the latter dates back to 1999.

Tony Pietrangelo was one of the residents that came out to the open house.

“I’m interested in everything going on in Amherstburg,” said Pietrangelo.

Pietrangelo wanted more information on the older Official Plan and to see what others thought of the process.

“Judging by the turnout, I think a lot of people are interested in what’s going on,” said Pietrangelo. “My main concern is how it’s going to affect my taxes next year.”

Shelley Shelley and Joy Hamilton also wanted to check things out.

“For me, it’s because the town is changing so much,” said Hamilton. “I want to keep informed.”

“You want to keep up and see what you can do to promote open spaces and the waterfront,” added Shelley, adding it is important to be informed.

Latest in Official Plan open houses held by the town

By Ron Giofu

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