A year ago, South Frontenac Planner Lindsay Mills proposed some ‘housekeeping’ changes to the Township’s Official Plan, (section 5.10.2). In the course of his presentation, Mills stated that, in his interpretation, the intent of the Township’s Official Plan was to “eventually have all buildings well set back from waterbodies to ensure protection of our lakes.” This was seen as a threat to all nonconforming or ‘grandfathered’ houses or cottages (those currently within the now required 30-metre set-back from the high water line) which might need major structural repairs to remain safe and functional.
“We have so much common ground,” said Jeff Peck, spokesperson for the Sydenham Waterfront Coalition; “we both want to maintain property standards and increase environmental protection. Surely we can arrive at some mutually acceptable way to achieve these goals and still preserve the rights of legal non-conforming structures. We would welcome the opportunity to work with Council to resolve this in a respectful manner, and could withdraw our OMB appeal.”
Briefly, CAO Orr was directed by Council to negotiate a settlement, but when Peck pressed for assurance that Council’s basic intent was to improve property standards and environmental protection, not to remove or push back all legal non-conforming structures, the offer to negotiate was withdrawn, on the grounds that the Township’s lawyer had advised against the Township having any discussion or negotiation of the subject with residents.
Then the OMB hearing, set for February, was set aside until May because the township’s planning department had neglected to send out 30-day notice of the hearing to all who had given written notice of their concern with the issue. This three-month delay has raised the waterfront coalition’s legal costs considerably.
The OMB appeal is now scheduled for May 25/26 at the Township hall, and is open to the public. The Waterfront Coalition has announced a general information meeting for all who are interested, at 10:00 am on Sunday May 21, in the community room of the library in Sydenham.