We wanted to let you know that the Director of Engineering and Construction has advised they are retaining an independent traffic engineering company to complete a peer review of Amazon's traffic study. Town staff will then compare their findings to determine possible actions. Additionally the Amazon operational plan is being reviewed by Town staff to ensure it is comprehensive ( shift structure, employee counts etc.) as the details in it will form the terms of reference for the requested updated traffic study. This additional level of review will begin when Amazon has provided the 'third submission' which is to include a traffic study based on the operational plan they have for the site. We hope this additional level of independent review is helpful to everyone as we work on addressing all of our concerns. All of this information will be part of the site plan report and published on the Planning and Development part of the Town website. Finally we hope to have a detailed operational report from Amazon to share soon. Feel free to give me a call if you have questions. Janet
Office of the Mayor & Council
What is happening with the Amazon application?
We have received a large number of phone calls and emails from area residents asking for details, requesting clarification, as well as expressing concerns over the Amazon warehouse location at 2175 Cornwall Road. We would like to provide details on what governs decisions related to the application made by H&R for 2175 Cornwall Road. We are equally frustrated with the proposed volume of vehicles and the potential impact that an Amazon delivery station may cause. Note it is not the large Amazon Fulfillment Centre you see in Mississauga.
The legal framework we have to work within is Town of Oakville Zoning bylaws and the Provincial Planning Act, specifically Section 34 and Section 41.
2175 Cornwall has been used as a warehouse by Gillette as well as UPS dating back over twenty years. The new tenants are not building a new warehouse they are modifying it for their operation. H&R, the owners of the land have submitted a site plan application for a westerly driveway and additional parking spaces.
They have also applied to the Province to have the Ministerial Zoning (MZO) restrictions on the land removed. In regards to the MZO, Council has asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to restrict any future development to the current size of the warehouse on the property. We are waiting for the Minister's decision.
In regards to the Site Plan Application:
Zoning bylaws determine the purpose which land can be used for. Our zoning bylaw states that 2175 Cornwall Road as E2 Zoning. The Chief Building Officer determines upon receipt of an application if the 'use' of a building meets the Zoning for the property. Amazon was deemed to be a E2 use and the Site Plan application is now underway.
A site plan approval is a required process that must be followed for major building renovations or additions. The purpose of a site plan approval is to review site design features and coordinate the following:
* High quality building design
* Impact of the proposal on surrounding land uses
* Placement of buildings
* Overall site design
* Pedestrian movement and barrier-free design
* Grading, drainage and storm water management
* Parking, loading layout, vehicular access and maneuvering
Site plan approval ensures a municipality that design requirements are met concerning site layout, street widening, parking, drainage and landscaping improving the quality and appearance of the development Site Plan applications are reviewed by the different technical departments at the Town/Region and then reported to the Director of Planning. This process has been underway since March. We are waiting for a third submission from the applicant related to their traffic study.
Is it really an E2 use?
We requested that Oakville's Chief Building Officer conduct more research to determine if Amazon's operation is truly an E2 given how they will operate is different than the tenants previously making use of this warehouse.
* The Chief Building Officer has reported that the primary use is assessed as Warehouse Distribution, which is E2 zoning. They also reported that our neighbouring municipalities also classify Amazon as warehouse distribution. These are much larger facilities that are located in more industrial areas. Our zoning bylaw does not differentiate the type of warehouse operation.
* The question of whether it is an E3 " transportation terminal" was reviewed as well. Examples of E3 in our zoning are large tractor trailer or bus stations such as Oakville Transit or Caravan.
We have asked for clarification on whether Amazon's products are considered freight, and if their description of the building use as a 'delivery station' would classify it as E3 use. The Chief Building officer continues to state this is a E2 use. Where land is zoned as E2 and the business use is determined as E2, Council does not have the right to restrict a property owner's right to operate a business within the current zoning on the land.
Some residents have suggested we just change the zoning. We are advised that while the Town could review the zoning and institute future changes they cannot be applied retroactively.
We too are very frustrated that current zoning which applies does not differentiate based on the types of warehouse. The acting CAO has advised the Provincial Planning act does not allow municipalities to restrict the scale and intensity of the operation of a site ( section 34 of the Planning Act).
What are you doing to address our concerns?
We successfully passed a motion at Council to have this specific Site Plan application be heard and decided at Council. This will be a public meeting allowing residents to participate and for Planning staff to advise the public on the details of the application and what can be done to mitigate the impact of this use. Council would be required to make their decision based on Section 41 of the Planning Act.Yes unfortunately we have limitations based on Planning Act.
We successfully passed a resolution asking the Minister to uphold restrictions on future development for the parkway belt area of the lands. This would help limit future expansion on the site. We await the Minister's decision.
We have submitted a large number of questions for consideration as the staff review the application. We continue to investigate what can be done within the legal framework.
Here are some frequently asked questions
How many vehicle trips will there be coming and going from the site?
The initial traffic study only reported peak hours and we do not know if this will occur 24/7 or just at peak. Town staff are waiting on a third submission which is to include updated Traffic information. Town Traffic engineers know our concerns in regarded to emergency vehicle access, road congestion, pedestrian and bike safety and will be providing a report to Council as part of the Site Plan review. If after reviewing the new submission there are grounds to require a peer review, Traffic engineering will arrange for it. When we receive the third submission it will be posted as are all other other document and shared with residents including JCRA.
Why did the Town invite Amazon to operate here?
We did not ‘invite’ Amazon to town. Amazon was looking for a warehouse location close to their customers to reduce drive time and this site was available. The property owner has signed a 10 year lease with them.
Why are warehouses in industrial areas of Brampton and Mississauga but allowed abutting residential neighbourhoods in Oakville?
We have investigated this and discovered that Municipalities are allowed to have different zoning and there are no Provincial standards on definition of 'use'. Years ago when the Official Plan and Zoning was put in place, Council determined that Cornwall would have employment uses on the North side. Some of you will recall that this location has been a warehouse for close to 20 years. What was not anticipated was that a warehouse could include a large number of mini vans. We are further advised that the Provincial Planning Act does not allow us to regulate the scale and intensity within a permitted use. We appreciate this is frustrating for residents and we are exploring this issue more.
Will the trucks have back up beepers?
Tractor trailers by Provincial regulation must have back up beepers. These trailers will be unloaded behind the building as they currently are. We are investigating if the mini vans are required to activate their back up beepers. We do know that all loading of the mini vans will take place in the interior of the building.
What about the cumulative impact on the neighbourhood in terms of noise or air quality ?
We have it on our list of questions being reviewed by Town staff.
We do not have a date for when third submission will be received from the applicant or the date the application will be heard by Town Council. We will ensure residents have sufficient time to review the report. We continue to listen and investigate options to address all our frustrations especially concerns related to traffic safety, noise and environmental impact.