| Dec 04, 2008

Dec 4/08 - NF Council

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Feature Article - December 4, 2008 North Frontenac Council -by Jeff Green

Solution offered for Ardoch livestock: chickens may come home to roost after all.

Glenn Tunnock, the North Frontenac Township Planning consultant, offered up an option which could allow Scott Cooper and Charles Johnston of the hamlet of Ardoch to keep the livestock they have accumulated on their property. In September they received a notice from the township’s bylaw officer informing them that the livestock they tend on their property is illegal and must be removed, as Ardoch is considered a “hamlet zone” in the township's comprehensive zoning bylaw, which came into force in 2004.

Cooper and Johnston asked for a delay so they could apply for a zoning change, arguing that their property has been continually used for agricultural purposes since 1931, and pre-existing uses are not generally prohibited by new bylaws.

However, the township’s solicitor expressed the opinion that the property was only being used for crop production when Cooper and Johnston bought it a mere nine days after the bylaw came into force. Bringing in a few goats, sheep, and chickens represented a change in use, and thus contravened the bylaw. For the township to alter the zoning now would set a dangerous precedent.

In his presentation to Council on November 27, Tunnock said that there is a provision in the Planning Act whereby property owners can apply to the township’s Committee of Adjustment for a one-time alteration in land use, which would allow them to expand their agriculture cropping operation to a livestock operation. Limitations on the number of animals and the location of the barn or shed for the animals would apply.

“That one-time approval should be based on a cap of the number of livestock units. The issue is the potential impacts on the neighbours,” Tunnock said.

The advantage of this kind of solution, according to Tunnock, is that it does not require a change in zoning, and thus does not set any real precedent that could come back to haunt the township.

Council was generally happy to see a solution to the bureaucratic tangle in this case, and agreed to follow Tunnock's advice, but there were questions raised about the definition of a hamlet, which was at the root of the issue.

“Is there such a designation as rural hamlet?” asked Councilor Wayne Good. “We have hamlets that have only one or two houses”.

“What we tried to do with hamlets is recognise the potential for new development by encouraging residential uses over other uses in these zones,” said Tunnock.

Tie goes to the loser – Tie votes on two competing motions symbolized the split in council over whether to plow a small section of the Crotch Lake Access Road for permanent residents Terry and Karin Reynolds.

Ms. Reynolds appeared before Council and pointed out that the road is a township owned and maintained road, and although maintenance has only been on a seasonal basis for boat access to the lake, the presence of permanent residents puts the onus on the township to maintain the road for the first 500 feet, where the Reynolds live. A report from Public Works manager John Ibey pointed out that the township could have significant expense plowing the road because the preferable means would be through a contractor and the road is not located near any other contracted road. As well, he suggested that the township might want to consider how many similar roads there are in the township before approving an increase in service.

A motion had been prepared as the result of Ibey’s report, calling for the whole matter to be considered in budget talks, with the possibility of hiring a consultant to look at all the roads that may be involved.

With Councilor Lonnie Watkins absent from the meeting, Mayor Maguire surmised that the remaining six members of Council were split. Half of them would support the motion that came out of Ibey’s report, and half would support providing the service to the Reynolds.

He was right. Councilors Perry, Good, and Mayor Maguire supported the motion, while Deputy Mayor Beam, as well as Councillors Gunsinger and Olmstead, voted against it.

A second motion, to provide the service, was supported by Beam, Gunsinger, and Olmstead and opposed by Maguire, Perry, and Good.

In municipal politics, tie votes are lost.

“I wish Lonnie were here,” said Karin Reynolds, referring to the absent Watkins, who has indicated his support for her cause.

Maguire disappointed with county process – Mayor Maguire reported to council on the all day meeting that was held to kick off the public consultation on the Frontenac County Integrated Community Sustainability plan.

“There are issues and solutions that are characteristic of the southern half, and different issues in the northern half and the two don't seem to be mixing here,” said Maguire. “They've begun the process of meeting with citizens of local communities, but they picked the wrong time of year. Back in the spring I told Don Grant, their senior consultant, that 2/3 of our residents are seasonal, but that did not seem to make any difference to them.

“In sum. Nothing new was said; there was nothing new that we heard. Was anything accomplished? No. I did tell them that I think maybe the County itself is not sustainable, but they are used to that from me by now.”

Mississppi Valley budget - Deputy Mayor Jim Beam, the township representative to the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA), informed council that the authority will be doing a lot of work on water facilities next year, seven of which are located in North Frontenac. The draft budget for the MVCA calls for a relatively small increase in the base budget, about 62 cents per resident in North Frontenac, and an extra levy, for the next four years, to help pay for a new headquarters. For 2009, this would mean the levy for North Frontenac would rise from $12,000 in 2008, to over $16,000 in 2009.

“We still do pretty well when we consider how much work they do on the township,” said Beam.

The City of Ottawa pays the vast majority of the MVCA budget, which is levied according to population, in excess of 95% of the budget.

Recycling plant – The township will contribute to the costs of a business plan for the purchase and operation of a recycling plant in Renfrew. The plant would serve eight surrounding townships.

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