| Dec 18, 2008

Dec 18/08 - SF Council

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Feature Article - December 11, 2008 South Frontenac Council -Dec 16/08By Jeff Green

South Frontenac passes major hurdle in Official Plan Review.

South Frontenac Council has finally put the contentious issue of the number of new building lots that can be created out of an existing lot, to bed.

At a meeting on Tuesday night (December 16) Council decided to amend the existing Official Plan, which as of the year 2000 has limited the number of severances to an existing lot, to three.

A compromise reached among a majority of Council members will result in raising that number to five, pending the approval of the Provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Several Councillors wanted to leave the same rules in place but to “restart the clock” so that any lot of record as of January 1st 2009 could be severed three times, even if the lot itself was created as the result of a severance over the past nine years.

The townships planning department vociferously objected to this proposal. Department head Lindsay Mills has argued for months that ‘restarting the clock’ “would violate approximately seven existing goals and objectives in the Plan, effectively requiring the Plan to be extensively changed.

While Mill’s recommended that no change be made, his fall back position, which he said would not have the same kind of impact on the plan as the ‘restart’ option, would be to increase the number of lots that can be created from an existing lot to 4.

Mills argues that this change “tends to still be consistent with the other policies in the Official Plan … this much more minor change has a better chance of being approved by the Ministry.”

In debating the issue, it quickly became clear that a majority of Council were not going to support Lindsay Mills initial recommendation and the ‘4 lot solution’ was also not likely to pass.

“We have some of the strictest regulations in Ontario that people must follow when creating lots and building on them. I don’t really see the problem with re-starting the clock,” said Councillor Ron Vandewal.

Councillor David Hahn took up the argument in favour of the status quo.

“There are two ways of making lots, by severance and by plan of subdivision. With severance you don’t have controls, and you don’t get groundwater studies. People come to the Committee of Adjustment; they apply and get the severance. With a plan of subdivision there are groundwater studies, environmental impact studies, and the developer builds new roads to a high standard. It is the best way to go.

“But why should people go to the trouble, and cost, of the plan of subdivision process just to create lots that are more expensive than severed lots. It’s not fair to the people doing subdivisions … We need to listen to our planner, who we pay good money to. He is talking about the future.”

Deputy Mayor Larry York said, “If we add two more lots that will make it five. Farmer’s around here are pretty necessary, and with a downturn in the economy farmers are not going to make much money next year or the year after. They need another tool, like selling a lot, to survive. Let’s protect the farmers.”

“We’re not just talking about farms and roads here, we are talking about waterfront. Changing the three severance rule is a mistake,” said Mayor Gary Davison.

Three votes were taken.

The first, a proposal to follow Lindsay Mills’ recommendation, went down in a 6-3 vote, with only Councillors Hahn, McPhail, and Mayor Davison supporting it.

The second, to increase the maximum severances on an existing lot to 4 also went down 6-3, with only Councillors McPhail, Stowe, and Davison supporting it.

Finally, the proposal to increase the maximum severances on an existing lot to 5 was carried with Councillors Fillion, Hicks, Robinson, Stowe, Vandewal and Deputy Mayor York in favour and only Councllors McPhail, Hahn and Mayor Davison opposed.

“People should not think they can apply for these new severances next week,” said Councillor Stowe. “This won’t happen if the Province doesn’t like it.”

“And they will take seriously that our own planner opposed it,” said Mayor Davison.

The townships Official Plan review will now move to a public meeting in the new year before being submitted to the Province.

Other Council news

Tanker purchase approved

Council accepted the tender from Seagrave inc. for a new fire truck at a cost of $294,234.85, including taxes.

The purchase is in line with the townships ongoing fire truck replacement plan.

Fire Chief Cheeseborough explained that in 2005, a levy of $35 for every $150,000 in property assessment was approved to create a fund of about $250,000 per year for new fire equipment. Since then a 25 year replacement plan for all equipment has been instituted.

“To compensate for the $35 special charge, a water shuttle program was brought in to assist people who live within 8 kilometres of fire halls with their insurance costs, resulting in decreases as high as 40%,” Cheeseborough said.

He added that the cost of fire equipment is going up 15% next year because of new regulations, so it pays the township to order a truck before the end of the year.

Municipal waste – In order to put substance to some of the matters that had been agreed to at a Committee of the Whole meeting one eek earlier, CAO Gord Burns brought two motions forward.

The first was that South Frontenac establish a township wide dump card which, the motion said, “will allow any resident of South Frontenac to take their garbage to any landfill within the township” as long as the proper fees are paid.

This was approved without much debate, although the vote was very close, 5-4. Councillors Hahn, Stowe, McPhail, Vandewal and Mayor Davison supported it, and Councillors Filion, Hicks, Robinson, and Deputy Mayor York opposed it.

”That’s what I’ll be campaigning on next time around,” said Bill Robinson after the vote.

The second motion was more widely supported, but it prompted quite a bit of debate over wording.

The motion proposed that the township waste management plan be received, that the number of active dump sites be reduced by 50% within 5-10 years, and that a one bag limit for each property be established, with all other bags requiring $1 tags.

This final point led to a ten minute debate over wording. The bulk of Council agreed with the idea that pick up crews will take a single untagged bag from each property each week, and that any other bags will require tags. How to word that in a motion proved elusive, although Council eventually got there.

Councillor Filion, however, was having none of it.

“We’ll all be unemployed soon anyway, so we’ll be eating garbage,” he said at one point.

Council will not be meeting until the New Year.

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