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Councillors look to correct zoning error

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In Council Watch
Sep 16th, 2016
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By Mehreen Shahid, Orillia Packet & Times

Severn Township council is likely to repeal a bylaw that has caused concern for residents of Carlyon Line.

Council chambers Wednesday evening was at capacity, with more than 60 residents showing up at the planning and development committee’s meeting to hear discussions around 4265 Carlyon Line, an 8.2-hectare lot that was zoned rural urban before being changed to general industrial.

In a report from last fall, staff said a “mapping error” had led to the zoning being changed to rural urban. At the owners’ request, a rezoning amendment was initiated by the township to reinstate the previous zoning of general industrial.

“We’ve heard a lot of information tonight,” said Coun. Ron Stevens, chair of the planning and development committee. “My problem is we still don’t know enough; a lot of questions weren’t answered. Therefore, I can’t support it staying currently zoned as it is.”

Details about what the owner would use the property for have not been revealed.

Last December, it caught next-door neighbour Daniel Boyce’s attention, and she raised concerns with the township. Another staff report was written, stating the property was never zoned industrial — that it was designated to be zoned industrial, but that zoning change hadn’t been approved.

Boyce wasn’t convinced a mapping error led to the mix-up, so she and other neighbours took the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board, which asked council to reconsider its decision in light of the fact the property had not previously been zoned industrial.

“My clients are incurring exorbitant fees to have finally got this going somewhere, because they’ve been saying this from Day 1: It was never zoned as industrial,” Aynsley Anderson, Boyce’s lawyer, told the committee. “You did enact a zoning bylaw but on no information. There’s a pile of information you need to understand as to why this property shouldn’t be zoned as industrial. You need to hear the whole picture before making this decision.”

Residents at the meeting spoke about environmental studies done on the property prior to tree removal and the creation of a road, a lack of information on proposed uses of the property, drainage, noise, pollution, increased traffic, and loss of privacy and property values.

With regard to work already done on the property between 2009 and 2013, Mayor Mike Burkett questioned Gary Bell, a land-use planner hired by property owner Glen Stewart, about why the township was not approached for permits.

“Mr. Stewart advises that the driveway was cut through then as part of studies for a proposed subdivision and he was doing that with the awareness of the municipality and, to his knowledge, he did not violate any laws or bylaw,” Bell said.

But Burkett wasn’t convinced, saying “the road was put through without council knowing what was going on.”

In an ecologist’s report prepared for Stewart, it was recommended a 20-metre vegetative buffer zone with an additional 50 metres of separation area would be suitable to avoid negative impact on surrounding residences.

But Deputy Mayor Judith Cox disagreed with the recommendation.

“I live a block from (a) factory and no buffer stops any beep-beep from reaching me,” she said.

Some of the trees, Anderson noted, have already been removed, leaving little option for a buffer.

“This land is not appropriate for industrial,” said Boyce. “I would like the vegetation put back and it zoned as residential. We moved here because it was a residential area and there was green space behind us, a forest. Now there will be no privacy because trucks will be going through.”

After almost two hours of discussions, the committee voted to recommend to council and the Ontario Municipal Board the bylaw enacted last year be repealed.

“The bylaw enacted in December 2015 was enacted on a mapping error as a housekeeping matter,” said Coun. John Betsworth. “It has been acknowledged to have been incorrect. Therefore, the first step is easy — repeal the bylaw and return the property to its correct designation: rural. It is then open to property owners to initiate a bylaw application not sponsored by the township and treated as any other application.”

Neither Boyce nor Stewart were willing to comment on the result of the meeting, as the matter is still before the Ontario Municipal Board, which has its next hearing Sept. 27.

A vote on whether to rubber-stamp the Wednesday’s committee decision will take place during a council meeting in October.

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