| Oct 19, 2006

Feature Article - October 19, 2006

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Feature Article - October 19, 2006

Ompah helipad causes trouble for neighbour

by JuleKoch Brison

Jamie Hahn, whose property abuts North Frontenac’s helipad in Ompah, appeared before council at Thursday’s meeting. Hahn read out a letter detailing the reasons he was asking council to pay for an assessment of the value of trees on his property.

In October 2005 the township had informed him that trees on his property were blocking the path of the helicopter and would have to be cut down. Initially Hahn assumed that only a few trees were blocking the helicopter, but subsequently learned that the flight path was basically in his front yard, and almost an acre and a half of trees would have to be cut down. The township had considered purchasing the portion of Hahn’s property in question, so he engaged a company to do an assessment of the value of the standing trees and also the replacement value of planting new trees. According to the assessment, the replacement value alone was $364,000.


Hahn offered to lease the property to the township, but council refused, saying they were looking at other options, including moving the helipad. Hahn made it clear that his problem was not with the helipad --he himself had been airlifted from there a few years ago; his problem was the $964 bill for the assessment, and he asked council to pay the invoice, saying that it was their responsibility to manage the helipad, and that the situation was something that he had not wanted in the first place.

Council reluctantly agreed to pay half of the bill.

Later in the meeting, council discussed a plan to move the helipad to Tomvale Airport on Road 506, which is owned by Claudio and Cathy Valentini. Several times over the years, without asking for any payment, the Valentinis have allowed air ambulances to land at Tomvale, and have even driven the flying paramedics to accident sites when they landed without directions or the means to get there. If the helipad were moved to Tomvale, the helicopters would be able to land on the existing runway, so the township would have to fill in potholes only once a year and provide snowplowing. The township would be added to the airport’s insurance policy and the contract is being reviewed by the township’s insurer.

The township will also write to the Ministry of Health, urging them to establish better procedures and communication between the air and land ambulance services.

1 North Frontenac and Addington Highlands Townships are partnering to invest in the construction of two cell phone towers along Hwy 41. North Frontenac is applying to the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation for a $20,000 EODP grant to help fund a cash incentive to attract a cell phone provider (see also Addington Highlands Council report).

2 The Waste Diversion Task Force has not entirely given up on exploring thermal processing (incineration) as an option for waste disposal in North Frontenac. A few months ago, a consultant’s report, the Jacques-Whitford report, had all but nixed incineration because it would be too expensive, but Councillor Bud Clayton, in giving a report from the task force, said incineration would be better for the township than an engineered landfill site, and with a larger base the costs could come down considerably. He said that the Township of Greater Madawaska was interested in joining the task force. However, the task force’s report recommends that for the time being the township explore the two medium term options presented by the Jacques-Whitford report: engineered landfill sites (sites with physical buffers to contain leachate) and trucking the wastes away.

3 A forgotten resolution made by North Frontenac’s council in 1998 to reduce building permit fees for churches by 15% will give a windfall to churches that have taken out permits since then. The building permit bylaw was not amended in 1998 after the resolution was passed, with the result that neither the present Chief Building Official nor the CAO were aware of it. The matter was recently brought to council’s attention because Councillor Clayton requested that council waive or reduce the fee for a renovation permit for the Plevna Anglican Church, pointing out that the fee was approximately $500 and the work to be done was worth approximately $500. Deputy Mayor Gleva Lemke then recalled that permits had been reduced in the past, and staff investigated the matter.

Council decided to reimburse 15% to the churches retroactively from 1998 to August 2005, when building permit fees increased. The reduction rate for churches will be increased to 25%, retroactive to August 2005.

4 The renovation of the municipal council chambers to create an additional office and lunchroom for staff leaves council without a place to meet. They met in the Clar-Mill hall during the summer, but the hall is used by many groups during the rest of the year. They have booked the Harlowe Hall has for the remainder of the 2006 meetings.

5 There is mould and other moisture damage in the basement of the Barrie Hall due to a water leak, and the township hired an industrial hygienist to determine whether the upstairs of the hall can still be used. The basement has been sealed off and the hygienist reported that the main levels of the hall are safe to use. Outside excavation and drainage work, possibly costing around $20,000, may need to be done to correct the problem, but the township will wait to undertake any expensive work because of possible upgrades to Hwy 41.

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