| Nov 22, 2007

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Feature Article - November 22, 2007

South Frontenac Official Plan Ammendments Ready for Public Scrutinyby Jeff Green

South Frontenac Council has spent several evenings working out their differences over the five-year review of the township’s official plan.

While they have not exactly come to anything resembling unanimity on a couple of contentious issues, Council agreed to present the proposed amended plan to the public at an open house on November 27, at the township office in Sydenham from 2-4 and 7-9 pm.

Many of the changes that are proposed for the Official Plan, which was originally adopted in 2002, came about as the result of changes in provincial regulations that were announced as recently as this past March.

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Among the issues that were up for debate between members of council, the one that took up the most time, and is still contentious in the minds of some councilors, is the prohibition of development on private lanes that do not lead to waterfront properties, so-called “back-lot development”.

These kinds of developments are not common, but concerns were raised over access by fire and ambulance on narrow lanes.

“Council recognises the health and safety concerns that are there, and our current position is, we will not support new back-lot development,” said township Clerk-Administrator Gord Burns.

Storrington Councilor John Fillion has been an outspoken opponent of the prohibition, on the grounds that it tramples on a landowner’s right to parcel off lots and give or sell them to family members.

“You either own your own land, or you don’t own your land,” he said in an interview, adding that it’s up to the individual to decide what kind of road they want to build. “This business about getting emergency vehicles down those roads is merely an excuse. You can live in a ski chalet if you want to; you can’t get a fire truck there, but you can live there anyway.”

For Fillion, the new rule will stop people from being able to sever lots for family members to move back to the area.

Loughborough Councilor Ron Vandewal voted to support the prohibition, although he had misgivings.

“I didn’t really see anything wrong with back-lot development” he said, “but since it can still be done if there is a plan of subdivision, I decided to go along with the change.”

There are stringent requirements under a plan of subdivision, ensuring that access lanes are built to a township road standard.

“Plans of subdivision also allow the township to have good information about the capacity of the land to handle development, because of hydro-geological and other studies that are required,” said Township Planner Lindsay Mills.There were other issues that were the subject of debate, including development within hamlets; whether the limit of three severances per existing lot should be permanent; and the boundaries of the village of Sydenham.

One of the major underlying questions that informed the Official Plan review is the pace of development within South Frontenac.

“The township grew in population by 11% from 2001 to 2006; that’s a pretty high rate,’ said Lindsay Mills.

While growth means more revenue, it can also mean more demands on infrastructure, and striking a balance was one of the intentions for both council and staff through the Official Plan review.

John Fillion does not think the township should be worried about over-development, however. “We’re not growing hand over fist,” he said, “Last year they talked about a building boom. They had 85 new homes, I don’t call that a boom. I don’t know any other logic to what is going on than to say the township is in the hands of the cottage associations, who don’t want anything to happen here,” he said.

Council will re-visit the Official Plan after hearing from the public next week.

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