OMB says no to proposed Webers restaurant in Oro-Medonte
By Sara Ross Orillia Packet & Times
ORO-MEDONTE – Webers cannot build a restaurant at 99 Mount St. Louis Rd. in Oro-Medonte Township just off Highway 400, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has ruled.
The development contravenes the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement, states the OMB ruling.
“… If and until the Growth Plan policy directing development to settlement areas is changed, the (Township of Oro-Medonte official plan) cannot be changed to allow it,” states the ruling.
Residents opposed to the development are “thrilled” with the decision, said Cynthia Colby.
“It was a great show of community support,” she said Wednesday.
Community members against the project had rallied together for months to prepare their arguments.
“I had strong concerns about the loss of rural character to our area,” Colby said.
Colby was among six Oro-Medonte residents who submitted witness statements to the 10-day OMB hearing in August.
In 2012, Webers owner Thomas Rennie, who has owned the popular Webers restaurant on Highway 11, north of Orillia for more than 50 years, asked Oro-Medonte council to rezone a portion of his 88 acres in the township to commercial zoning.
The property is zoned rural, agricultural and has environmental protections.
Rennie’s company, Crestwood Park Holdings Inc. — which owns Webers — requested OMB involvement in the case because township staff did not make a decision regarding zoning changes and various environmental studies within the provincially mandated 180 days.
The OMB released its decision Dec. 5.
For five years, Colby has lived across from the property in question.
“The endangered species that live on the property and their habitat would have been threatened as well as all the other wildlife,” she said.
Along with wildlife concerns, Colby was worried the Coldwater River, which runs through the property, would become polluted due to the proposed septic location. The development would cause traffic congestion, be a danger to cyclists and cause air, noise and light pollution, Colby said.
In addition, “it opens the door to changing the zoning wherever else it’s zoned agricultural rural (with) environmental protection,” she said.
Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes said he could not comment on the decision because council has yet to discuss the document.
Hughes did say the decision came down to whether the development conformed with provincial policy.
“(The OMB) decision is very succinct,” Hughes said. “It would have been nice if the OMB hearing had been as succinct. It was extremely lengthy and it went in all different directions.”
Rennie could not be reached for comment Wednesday.