Good planning makes good neighbours

·4 min read

HURON-KINLOSS – Most people are familiar with the concept that good fences make good neighbours.

A version of that was expressed at the Aug. 9 meeting of the committee of adjustment – good planning maintains harmony in a neighbourhood and prevents bad feelings among residents.

In the case of a minor variance application to allow construction of a single detached dwelling with a smaller side yard and a greater height than is permitted in the zoning bylaw, there were objections from neighbouring residents. The proposed house is taller and wider than allowed, to permit higher ceilings and a three-car garage.

The county planning department recommended deferring any decision pending receipt of additional information.

Deputy Mayor Don Murray said deferral would give the applicant the opportunity to come back with a revised plan.

Coun. Jim Hanna said he hopes the applicant revises his plan.

“If the same one comes back again, I won’t go for it. We go through this so people remain good neighbours,” he said.

The vote was in favour of deferral.

Another application for a minor variance to allow a smaller side yard setback than is permitted in the zoning bylaw had a different outcome.

The second application, also for a lakeshore property, was to facilitate construction of an addition on a cottage. An existing small shed will be demolished.

As stated by the applicant, care was taken to plan an addition that would have minimum impact on neighbours, for example, smaller windows on one side of the building to ensure privacy. The proposed side yard reduction applies to only a small portion of the side lot line.

The size and scale of the addition were deemed “appropriate” by the county planning office.

“It’s not a case of building as high as you can and as wide as you can; it’s just to make it more liveable for the applicant,” said Hanna.

The motion to approve the minor variance carried.

A third item on the agenda involved a zoning bylaw amendment to permit a surplus farm dwelling severance.

The county planning department recommended deferring any decision pending confirmation the house is habitable.

Council decided to go ahead and approve the minor variance despite the recommendation, on the grounds that any house can be made habitable, and winter is coming. The compromise was to require a certificate issued by the township’s building inspector that the house “can be made habitable.” This effectively removes the matter from the planning process and speeds everything up for the applicant.

Court of Revision

The purpose of a Court of Revision is to consider assessments for a municipal drain. The overall engineering including the total cost will not change. Those who feel their assessments are unfair have the opportunity to appeal to have them reduced, in which case any amount the court decides on will be added to other assessments.

Two municipal drains were considered by the Court of Revision on Aug. 9 – the McDonald Municipal Drain was the first. There were no appeals.

This was not the case of the million-dollar Bruce Beach Municipal Drain, which had two appeals – one from Gary Pollock and the other from Mark and Simira Gancevich (spokesperson – Gowling WLG Canada LLP).

Engineer Steve Brickman of Headway Engineering gave detailed evidence to the court, including information presented at the earlier meeting about the engineering portion of project.

Pollock is appealing his assessment on the grounds that the problem with the water flowing down the ravine originates with the agricultural land.

“I shouldn’t be held responsible for a problem I didn’t create,” he said.

Carolina Campos, the lawyer who spoke for the other landowners, said the township had been negligent in maintaining drainage infrastructure, leading to an accumulation of debris. The landowners weren’t receiving any added benefit, since the project was correcting a situation that “never should have occurred.”

After brief deliberations behind closed doors, the members of the Court of Revision upheld the original assessment schedule.

All parties will receive written notice of the decision which will contain additional information on the process to appeal the decision of the Court of Revision to the Ontario Drainage Tribunal.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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