Council votes down zoning bylaw amendment

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has unanimously refused to grant a zoning bylaw amendment for a Concession 6 North property that has raised the ire of its neighbours.

The property is home to numerous dogs and both neighbours and council members have been concerned about activities at the site for at least the last month, as the matter was also talked about at a July planning meeting. Concerns raised included the breeds of dogs, the proximity of activity to neighbours, whether activities such as dog boarding and the sale of goods was occurring, and the timing of permit applications as opposed to when building activity actually occurred.

The issue was addressed at Monday night’s town council meeting where neighbours Tom and Suzana Siimes again voiced concerns with the property and said a building that had been proposed for the land “is not a minor variance.” The Siimes family said they located where they did, 2,000 feet from the road,  for peace and quiet. That followed up on a July presentation to council where they said it was “not your regular kennel.”

Suzana told town council is was “not fair” that neighbouring landowners have had to abide by the law and endure noise and other issues from the home in question.

“If you amend (the bylaw) to favour him, this will become horribly big and out-of-control,” she said Monday night. “Tonight we ask you to deny the application.”

Suzana added they have to put up with “insane noise” on a regular basis.

Ken Blanchette, another neighbour, also called for council to deny the application and wanted peace and quiet in the neighbourhood. In July, he also voiced concerns regarding a secondary driveway near his home and the lights that shine in when people use that driveway at night.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he visited the area and there are a “number of issues.” While he “totally understands where (the neighbours) are coming from,” he asked to hear from the applicant as well. Planner Jackie Lassaline, who works with the applicant Aladdin Khalifa, was not permitted to speak Monday night but at July’s meeting, she stated “in my professional opinion, the proposed dog kennel is consistent with the PPS (Provincial Policy Statement) in a rural area.”

The kennel would have mitigating measures such as security fencing, trees, berms and screening, she also told council last month, and that the proposed new building to was to have sound proofing.

“Other local municipalities such as the Town of Essex allow 60 metres from a kennel to an existing residence,” she said at the July planning meeting.

Dogs are his hobby, Khalifa explained at the July meeting, adding that he constructed eight-foot fencing and installed sheets of zinc around the perimeter of his property so that they couldn’t dig under them. Khalifa added that he stopped boarding dogs after meeting with the town’s bylaw officer. He said the only dogs on the property are his dogs and “you can’t hear my dogs.”

At Monday’s meeting, Councillor Jason Lavigne said he was not in favour of amending the zoning bylaw. He said there was an ad online where the kennel was looking for people to work there and added that issues such as the amount of dogs on the land could be addressed through future motions from council.

Councillor Diane Pouget outlined a series of concerns, and was the one who made the motion to deny the zoning bylaw application.

“I feel very, very strongly we can’t allow this request to proceed,” she said.

CAO John Miceli cautioned that without an amendment, it might limit the town’s powers on what it can do to enforce regulations at the site including enforcing how many dogs are permitted on a property.

“Without an amendment, the town will have difficulty having any control over the property,” he said.

Meloche said he was concerned over how to “get a handle” on the matter, and called for a report believing that more problems could be created without it but director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said a report was prepared but that administration sought further direction and clarification.

Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said “there’s an open investigation” into what breeds of dogs are on the property.

At the July meeting, Khalifa’s lawyer Nick Souilliere described the dogs as “absolutely sweet” and that all were licensed with Khalifa telling council at the time the dogs were mastiffs that played with children at local festivals.

Chief building official Angelo Avolio added that five permit applications have now been put in, but no permits have yet been issued.

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