AH will hold second public meeting on zoning bylaw 0
Dock lengths, rural residential lots, outdoor wood-burning furnaces and the township's public notification process dominated discussion at a public meeting on Algonquin Highlands's zoning bylaw Thursday.
The gallery at the council chambers on North Shore Road was crowded for the meeting on the morning of Aug. 15.
The review of the township's zoning bylaw began in the spring of 2012, with open houses in July and October of last year.
There was some delay in the process between that time and a discussion by council about the draft amended policy last month.
“Council has had some of the same questions the public has,” Reeve Carol Moffatt said at the meeting's outset, explaining these pertained to limiting the lengths of docks, increasing the minimum size of rural residential lots and setbacks for outdoor wood-burning furnaces.
Since a number of residents had expressed concern they just found out about the bylaw review, Moffatt said a second public meeting was scheduled for Sept. 19.
The draft, prepared by the township's planning consultant Greg Corbett, suggested limiting docks on residential properties to 15 metres.
Currently, the township has no restriction on dock lengths.
Minden Hills has a 15-metre restriction, with an exemption that docks in shallow areas can be extended beyond that length in order to reach a water depth of one-metre.
Dysart el al and Highlands East townships do not have limits in place, but municipalities in Muskoka do, ranging from 15 to 20 metres in length.
“From the comments I've heard, there's a lot of discussion about the length of docks,” said Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen, indicating many constituents seemed to be against the idea of a restriction and noting she didn't think the township had experienced any problems with the issue. “I propose we take that maximum length out.”
Councillors Gord Henderson and Marlene Kyle agreed.
Council moved the dock length limit be removed from the draft.
As for rural residential lot size, the existing minimum is one acre with a minimum of 60 metres of lot frontage.
The draft recommends increasing the minimum to five acres with 90 metres of frontage.
“Do we really want to eliminate one-acre lots in Algonquin Highlands?” Moffatt asked. “I'm not sure we do.”
Kyle thought five acres lots were not economical for everyone and that by making it the minimum, council might be preventing people from buying land in the township.
Danielsen said she'd like to see a minimum rural lot size somewhere in between one and five acres.
Council left the draft the way it was to see what the public might say on the subject.
The draft also includes a restriction that outdoor wood-burning furnaces be located a minimum of 30 metres from the property lines of neighbours.
“This came up based on one issue we've had in the township,” chief administrative officer Angie Bird told councillors.
Council left the draft as it was, awaiting public feedback.
Dysart el al has a space restriction in place for the wood-burning structures.
The draft recommends numerous other changes.
One is that the maximum lot coverage percentage for shoreline residential and rural residential lots be lowered from 30 to 15 per cent.
Lot coverage includes the primary dwelling plus all aceessory buildings, but only represents the amount of ground that is covered.
It does not include second storeys.
At their July meeting, councillors suggested reducing the percentage from 30 to 15 in the draft.
This would bring the township in line with Minden Hills and Dysart el al, which have limits of 15 per cent.
Highlands East has a residential lot coverage max of 10 per cent and some townships in Muskoka have caps as low as five per cent.
Terry Moore of the Halls and Hawk Lakes Property Owners Association told councillors he didn't think a 15 per cent limit was sufficient.
The association had suggested limited the square footage of dwellings in shoreline areas to 2,000.
“There's a huge amount of anxiety out there . . . in terms of the size of structures,” Moore said. “We're being Muskoka-ized.”
The draft also distinguishes between uses for shore road allowances still owned by the township and those owned by residents.
If not owned, a floating dock, pump house and access path are the permitted uses in the draft.
If purchased, additional structures such as sheds, gazebos and free-standing decks can be added.
While Moffatt acknowledged this may be seen as a way for the township to pressure residents into buying their shore road allowances, “it's an issue of trying to put a limit on municipal liability,” she said, referring to increasing litigious behaviour.
Changes in the bylaw will be grandfathered – new regulations won't apply to existing, legal, non-conforming uses.
Numerous letters the township received from residents expressed opposition to limiting dock length.
Letters and a couple of attendees also expressed concern they hadn't received enough notification from the township about the bylaw review.
Moffatt responded that the issue and notice of the meeting had been in the local media, spoken about by her on the radio and that a notice of the meeting had been posted on the township's website.
“We sit here every other Thursday and not a soul darkens that door,” she said. “With all due respect, people need to pay a little more attention. Council is not trying to pull a fast one. We do this all the time in a very public process and no one seems to pay much attention.”
The second public meeting on the zoning bylaw will take place Sept. 19.
The draft bylaw can be viewed on Thursday's council agenda at https://haliburton.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=101512