| Mar 23, 2006


Feature Article - March 23, 2006

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Feature Article - March 23, 2006

LOLCS must move

by JeffGreen

At a sometimes bitter public meeting over a zoning issue, Addington Highlands Council has decided that Land o’ Lakes Community Services (LOLCS) have two years to vacate the converted house in Northbrook they use for their offices. Neighbours who presented a petition calling for just such an outcome, took pains to point out they were supportive of Land o’ Lakes Community Services and the work the organization does in the surrounding community, but they want their neighbourhood to be entirely residential, in line with the way it was originally zoned.

“I support Community Services completely, but I don’t think they should be located where they are now; it’s not a good place for them,” said Dale Northey, who presented the petition.

The issue came forward as the result of an application for a zoning amendment by LOLCS’ landlord, developer Ellery Thompson. The building is located within a subdivision Thompson developed, and has rented to LOLCS for the past ten years.

Backstage_antics

It was recently brought to council’s attention that the building is located on a lot that is zoned as residential, just as Thompson was preparing to construct a 22’ by 26’ extension to the building to accommodate the LOLCS’ increasing need for offices and storage space. Accordingly Ellery Thompson applied for a zoning amendment to the zoning bylaw to permit LOLCS to remain there.

A public meeting took place on March 6 to consider the zoning amendment bylaw and at that time a group of people living in the vicinity of the office expressed their concerns about what could happen to the building if LOLCS ever moved. They pressed council to ensure that if LOLCS moved no other commercial venture could be established in the location.

Council decided to prepare a second bylaw, which stated that the zoning would revert to residential should LOLCS move out, and they set a second public meeting for March 20.

At the first meeting people who spoke of their concerns made it clear they did not have an issue with LOLCS, just with the potential for other uses of the building. However, there was an underlying concern about Land o’ Lakes Community Services running their agency from the location.

“I realized at the first meeting that Council was not hearing the point that we preferred LOLCS to move, because the area was always designated as a purely residential one, and they would be better served by a proper office, so I organised a petition,” recalls Dale Northey.

The petition stated that LOLCS should move and no other commercial venture should be permitted. It received widespread support from people living in the immediate area.

At the second meeting, several people talked about some coarse language voiced by LOLCS clients, and police presence there on a couple of occasions.

“I don’t understand this,” said Councillor Bill Cox, “at the last meeting I heard the residents say they had no problem with Community Services being there, and now I see a petition saying they don’t agree with Community Services being there. What happened?”

“The message is, we support Community Services. We just don’t support them being located where they are, which is not really suitable for them,” said Dale Northey.

Susan Andrew Allen, the Executive Director of LOLCS, attended the meeting. She was asked why LOLCS had asked Ellery Thompson to increase their office space rather than looking for a location elsewhere in Northbrook .

“We looked at other alternatives, but we couldn’t afford them,” she said.

Councillor Eythel Grant then proposed an amendment to the second bylaw, granting permission for LOLCS to remain in the building for two years, after which time they must move. Ellery Thompson said he was willing to put on the extension to the building for LOLCS to use, and could accept the two-year limitation. Somewhat more reluctantly, Susan Andrews Allen said LOLCs could live with this. Many of the neighbours preferred limiting LOLCS to one year, and expressed that opinion in a straw vote.

“At least give us two years to work this out,” said Susan Andrew Allen.

Council decided to give LOLCS two years.

After the meeting, Susan Andrew Allen talked to the News in her cramped office.

“This wasn’t exactly what we planned,” she said, “but we have an ad-hoc building committee and perhaps someone will see this as an opportunity to develop some office space in Northbrook .”

(Cheryl Hartwick of Land o’ Lakes Community Services has been writing a series of articles about the agency’s history and services. This week’s article is about the Adult Protective Services Program. It can be found on page 12)

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