Township rejects rezoning for in-house laboratory n REZONING

By Peterborough Examiner
Tue., Jan. 27, 2015
Article was updated May. 13, 2020
Township rejects rezoning for in-house laboratory n REZONING:
A Trent University researcher who sought municipal approval to convert the basement of her house near campus into a research laboratory was turned down by township council Tuesday night.

Magda Havas studies the effect of Wi-Fi on human health and she had planned to build a laboratory in a house she owns on Glenwood St. just west of Trent University.

Many of her neighbours opposed the idea, saying that a lab doesn't belong in a residential area and that it would erode their property values.

Although township planner Jeannette Thompson recommended that the rezoning be approved, council unanimously turned it down.

The neighbours had hired their own planner, Heather Sadler, who said a rezoning would allow industrial land use within a residential neighbourhood.

"You just don't do that," she said.

Ultimately, council agreed.

Selwyn Township Coun. Gerry Herron said it would be "irresponsible" of council to allow a laboratory in a house in this "quiet and quaint" neighbourhood.

"I think the greatest number has spoken," he said, meaning the neighbours. "We need to do what's right."

Trent University professor Magda Havas wants to put an electromagnetic fields lab in her house at 319 Glenwood St. in Selwyn Township just north of Peterborough, but township council rejected the plan on Tuesday night after neighbours objected. (Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/QMI Agency)

Mike Bernardi, who lives across the street from the proposed lab, smiled after the vote.

"I'm absolutely elated," he said, adding that a lab "just wouldn't fit" in their neighbourhood.

Havas was at the meeting but declined to comment after the debate.

But before the decision, she told councillors that her research requires a lab free of electromagnetic energy - the kind of energy that comes from Wi-Fi, baby monitors and cordless phones.

Her house on Glenwood St. is ideal, she said, because it's located suitably far from a cell tower and it's equipped with special shields that repel her neighbours' Wi-Fi.

She can't work on campus at Trent, she said. There's Wi-Fi there.

Meanwhile Havas doesn't live in the house on Glenwood St. where she proposed the lab. She lives in another house she owns, on Woodward Ave.; the backyards adjoin.

She had owned the house on Glenwood jointly with her late mother. A research assistant and her three young children live there now, Havas said.

Meanwhile Havas had been willing to compromise: She said she would have no more than five people at her monthly workshops at the lab, when she had earlier proposed 10 to 15 people at a time.

She also said she would settle for a temporary rezoning, in effect for three years before council gets decide whether to renew it.

But Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis said she couldn't support a rezoning - temporary or not - because it might set a precedent for other similar research labs in the area.

Next-door neighbour Jessica Park said she was "very relieved".

"We weren't expecting a unanimous decision," she said.

Jill Romain, another neighbour, also said she was pleased.

"The Township of Selwyn does take into consideration the voices of many as opposed to just one individual," she said. "I'm extremely happy."
Magda Havas, BSc, PhD
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