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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Editorials Democracy In Action, But No Real Winner Yet

by Doug Harvey

This editorial is about a dispute that spans several Municipality of Central Elgin Council Meetings which I attend, and begins with a complaint received by the Municipality regarding a business that operates from a residential property, started the ball rolling in this property usage dispute, that, so far, has resulted in a divided Municipality of Central Elgin Council on what is a fair solution to address this dispute between neighbour's. And the editorial begins with excerpts from past Council stories.

Central Elgin Planning Meeting - Monday, April 18th, 2016 - Starts

Central Elgin Planning Office

CEP 30-16 Application to Amend Township of Yarmouth By-law 1998 - Donald Neville, 44400 Talbot Line - Carried

Background Report

THAT Report CEP.30.16 be received; AND THAT direction be given by Council to prepare a site-specific draft amendment to the Zoning By-law to permit a towing business as a rural home occupation at 44400 Talbot Line, which may be legally described as the South Part of Lot 15, Concession 9, geographic Township of Yarmouth, now Municipality of Central Elgin; AND FURTHER THAT a date for a public meeting be established in accordance with Ontario Regulation 545106 as amended. ( Recommended Date: May 16th, 2016 @ 7:20 p.m.)

ORIGIN:

The applicant was recently approached by the Municipality's By-law Enforcement Officer and advised that the towing business (DNO Towing), which has existed at the subject lands for approximately eight years, is not in compliance with the zoning by-law. This information came forward as a result of a complaint received by the Municipality regarding the use. The applicant has now filed an application for a zoning by-law amendment to bring the use into compliance with the zoning by-law.

Central Elgin Planning Meeting - Monday, April 18th, 2016 - Ends

Municipal Staff prepared a draft property zoning by-law amendment to bring the use into compliance with the zoning by-law. At the Planning Applications Meeting on Monday, May 16th, 2016 under the Zoning By-law Amendments section Mr. McCoomb presented the draft by-law.

Planning Applications for Monday, May 16th, 2016 - Starts

2. 7:20 p.m. - ZBA - 44400 Talbot Line - Public Meeting Background - The applicant was recently approached by the Municipa1ity’s By-law Enforcement Officer and advised that the towing business (DNO Towing), which has existed at the subject lands for approximately eight years, is not in compliance with the zoning by-law. This information came forward as a result of a complaint received by the Municipality regarding the use. The applicant has now filed an application for a zoning by-law amendment to bring the use into compliance with the zoning by-law.

Council checked that proper notice for the Public Meeting had been given, Mr. McCoomb presented the draft By-law, correspondence had been received from Catfish Creek Conservation Authority stating no objections.

Correspondence had been received from Matthew Campbell, representing Brian and Wendy Macdonald, 9480 Yarmouth Centre Road stating their concerns of the expansion of the business since 2008, and encouraging Council to refuse the Zoning Application on the grounds that it is not consistent with the policies and the intent of the official plan, and does not constitute good land use planning.

Correspondence had also been received from the Ministry of Transportation advising that the property is located inside the MTO's Permit Control Area, and building, land use, and sign permits are required from MTO before any demolition, grading, construction work, alterations to the property, or a change in use can occur.

This Public Meeting, which lasted over an hour, had statements against the Application from four people, and had statements for the Application from three people. Matthew Campbell spoke first about how DNO Towing could not be considered part of the existing Official Plan because it was never legally established as permited use under the Zoning By-law. Their case against this application was provided by images showing locations of buildings, quantity and size of trucks on the property, and contaminants leaking from the damaged vehicles.

Don Nevill of 44400 Talbot Line and of DNO Towing said that DNO Towing is a registered business, is registered to 1020 Talbot Street, St Thomas known as the Pioneer Gas Station. 44400 Talbot Line is the property where I live, and park a total of five trucks, two of those trucks, which are small Tow Trucks, both of which my Sons drive 24 hours a day, and take home at night. So at the property there would be a maximum of three trucks not being used. His case for this application was provided by same images showing locations of buildings, quantity and size of trucks on the property, and contaminants leaking from the damaged vehicles. He spoke about the locations of the buildings and how the property is used, 50% for the front part by the house was green space, and 50% for the back. According to Mr. Nevill some of the images shown were dated, and did not give a true sense of the operation on the property. Mr. Nevill expressed that as a Volunteer Fireman at Yarmouth Centre Station for over 25 years, that during the last 20 years has been supplying in excess of 200 vehicles to be used for extrication practise and demonstrations for the Central Elgin Fire Department, and stated that no repairs are done on the property.

After everyone had an opportunity to be heard, the Public Meeting was then concluded, and the Zoning By-law Amendment will be considered at a future meeting of Council.

Planning Applications for Monday, May 16th, 2016 - Ends

So far everything seems to be progressing normally, the draft by-law that was prepared by staff was presented, and both sides of the dispute had their say providing a very large and detailed amount of information at the Public Meeting, making a decision that much harder to come up with. And now on to the Regular Meeting Of Council.

Regular Meeting Of Council On Monday, June 27th, 2016 - Starts

Central Elgin Planning Office

CEP 40-16 Application to Amend Township of Yarmouth Zoning By-law 1998 - Don Neville, 44400 Talbot Line - Moved by Sally Martyn and Seconded by Harold Winkworth that CEP 40-16 be received as information and that Council request staff to revise the draft amendment respecting 44400 Talbot Line to limit the activity to the scale that it was prior to the expansion through the incorporation of the following provisions:
. A provision limiting the number of tow vehicles permitted to be kept on the site to two, which must also be under a specific weight class.
. A provision limiting the area of the property that may be used for the business, including the compound.
. A provision restricting the use of accessory buildings that may be used for the business to only one of the garages.
and that said changes would bring the use more into compliance with the policies of Subsection 4.1.1( g) of the Plan, particularly with respect to the use being secondary to the principle residential use and the adverse impacts to neighbouring uses, and that said use would also be subject to site plan control, and further that staff be directed to schedule a public meeting to present the revised By-law in accordance with Ontario Regulations 54506 as amended.

Dan McNeil commented on how well done the report that Mr. McCoomb put together, and that because of this, helped him verify the issues, and thought that the recommendations were excellent. Harold Winkworth commented that if he had the house beside what was is going on this property, that he would be sitting here too, the same as these folks. He also commented that he did not want the Municipality policing these issues, and what ever decision be final. David Marr commented that he also thought that Mr. McCoomb did a good job with the report, and that this will mean that we will have a Public Meeting in July, prepare a draft Zoning By-law and see what kinds of concerns the public may have at that time. Mr. McCoomb commented that the zoning can only be based on the use itself and that is one of the issues that Council has to keep under consideration before making it's final decision on this matter. We will prepare a revised amendment and bring it back before the public and see where it goes from there. The Motion was Carried.

Regular Meeting Of Council On Monday, June 27th, 2016 - Ends

During this meeting, directions are given to staff,

Moved by Sally Martyn and Seconded by Harold Winkworth that CEP 40-16 be received as information and that Council request staff to revise the draft amendment respecting 44400 Talbot Line to limit the activity to the scale that it was prior to the expansion through the incorporation of the following provisions:
. A provision limiting the number of tow vehicles permitted to be kept on the site to two, which must also be under a specific weight class.
. A provision limiting the area of the property that may be used for the business, including the compound.
. A provision restricting the use of accessory buildings that may be used for the business to only one of the garages.
and that said changes would bring the use more into compliance with the policies of Subsection 4.1.1( g) of the Plan, particularly with respect to the use being secondary to the principle residential use and the adverse impacts to neighbouring uses, and that said use would also be subject to site plan control.

Impressions are forming in this dispute on what the right solution is, and how to solve this issue, but is some advice from staff over looked.

Mr. McCoomb commented that the zoning can only be based on the use itself and that is one of the issues that Council has to keep under consideration before making it's final decision on this matter.

Public Meetings for Planning Applications - July 18th, 2016 - Starts

Zoning By-law Amendment(s)

1. 12:45 p.m. - ZBA - 44400 Talbot Line
Mr. McCoomb described the draft of proposed amendment that would bring the property into compliance, and the events to date on this highly contested proposed zoning By-Law Amendment. Matthew Campbell, representing Brian and Wendy Macdonald, 9480 Yarmouth Centre Road started off by thanking Staff for trying to achieve a compromise in this difficult situation between neighbours, however, this compromise was not the one that we were looking for. We were hoping for a compromise that would regulate through the zoning By-Law, the scale and intensity of the towing business to a state prior to the doctrine of the 2012 official plan. Limit land use to 19% for the business as shown in photo's taken in 2010, limit of two tow trucks on site, being of the tow truck wrecker type, limit the use of the newly constructed garage to personal use only. We are seeking a compromise that regulates the business back to the original scale it was in 2010.

Don Nevill of 44400 Talbot Line and of DNO Towing stated that he compromised on the heavier trucks and the trailers, with the draft amendment, and that some of the information stated previous about the trucks having engine breaks was incorrect, and the noise the trucks make is not any more than a regular Diesel pickup. Mr Nevill went on to dispute information that was provided by his neighbours and to describe in his opinion the actual usages of the buildings, and business practices that he follows in his property.

Sally Martyn asked how the percentages of business use get decided. Mr. McCoomb replied that during a visit to Mr. Nevill's property, based on a likely use of the buildings, and factoring in how the business operates, he came up with the 35% business use. Mr. McCoomb also said that by using the aerial photos of the business that Mr Campbell refers to, does not give a clear indication of ongoing everyday activities, just a idea of the activities that occurred at the time the photo was taken. There is no standard set for the business percentage use of a property.

Fiona Roberts asked why this came up before Council. Mr. McCoomb replied that it came before Council as a result of a complaint received by the Municipality regarding the use. Fiona Roberts then went on to ask "Does that mean that the whole time the business had been operated from that property, it was not in compliance?" Mr. McCoomb replied "Correct". Fiona Roberts went on to say "What's to stop anybody else from doing the same thing" and "What do we say to the people that have followed the rules". Mr. McCoomb then replied that if Council felt that Mr. Nevill broke too many regulations that Council could turn down the zoning By-Law, and then Mr. Nevill would have two options, to appeal the decision at the OMB, or to find a new location for his business. Mr. McCoomb also said that "We could take one more shot at revising the amendment, rather then having multiple Public Meetings over and over again that we revise it to something that Council is looking for." Discussion continued talking about options and other property issues that were raised earlier. Next Harry Froussios, a colleague of Mr. Campbell who represents the Macdonald's, spoke about how this has always been an illegal operation, and that Council is being asked to legalize the use under the conditions that the applicant wishes to see. Mr. Nevill ended with saying that Talbot Line is lined with businesses, and that he was not asking for anything out of the norm, and that the Macdonald's bought a lot 300 feet from Talbot line knowing that the road was busy, and 300 feet from the Fire Station.

The Public Meeting concluded with a Zoning By-Law Amendment to be considered at a future Meeting of Council.

Public Meetings for Planning Applications - July 18th, 2016 - Ends

During this meeting the limits get defined.

Limit land use to 19% for the business as shown in photo's taken in 2010, limit of two tow trucks on site, being of the tow truck wrecker type, limit the use of the newly constructed garage to personal use only. We are seeking a compromise that regulates the business back to the original scale it was in 2010.

Mr. McCoomb replied that during a visit to Mr. Nevill's property, based on a likely use of the buildings, and factoring in how the business operates, he came up with the 35% business use.

Regular Meeting Of Council On Monday, August 22nd, 2016 - Starts

Central Elgin Planning Office

CEP 62-16 Application to Amend Township of Yarmouth By-law 1998 - Donald Neville, 44400 Talbot Line

A Motion that Report CEP.62.16 be received as information. David Marr commented that this was for the changes made to the draft By-law that were minor in nature only, not for the actual By-law. Was Carried with Harold Winkworth, and Fiona Roberts opposed.

By-laws

By-law 2052 ZBA - 44400 Talbot Line - Neville - Harold Winkworth commented that this is about a business that started illegally, operated illegally, this By-law is supposed to, zoning wise, make it legal, with the understanding that the value of the property beside it was compromised. I don't think that the McDonalds signed up for this, and it's nothing against the McDonalds, but if their home was up for sale, and if it was a reasonable price, I would not purchase it, only because of the business beside it. So I can not support this.

Sally Martyn also stated she could not support this because the By-law did not take it back to what the McDonalds had agreed upon that the business was before the expansion. So I can not support this.

Fiona Roberts also stated she could not support this because the business started illegally, operated illegally, and was afraid of the precedent that would be set if passed. So I can not support this.

The vote was taken with Steven Carr and Dan McNeil for the Motion, and Sally Martyn, Harold Winkworth, and Fiona Roberts voting against, defeating the motion. The result of the vote still leaves this issue unresolved, and may go before the OMB, or go through another round of Public Meetings.

Regular Meeting Of Council On Monday, August 22nd, 2016 - Ends

When it came to a vote, I would like to ask this question, that if Councillor of Ward 2, Dennis Crevits had not been absent, would the vote have gone a different way. And my answer would be, I think so, especially if Councillor Dennis Crevits had voted for the Motion. So, now, after all this taxpayer money has been spent, on a solution to an issue between neighbour's that couldn't be agreed upon, that in reality, the final judgement call will be handed down by the Ontario Municipal Board. All I can say is "I hope it was all worth it?"


Last Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2016 17:30:42 PM EST

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