Perth South Council hears update on proposed surplus farmhouse severance policy ahead of Sept. 22 public meeting

By Dan Rankin

In St. Pauls Tuesday, Perth South Council received an update from County Planner Allan Rothwell regarding proposed amendments to the county’s official plan that would permit surplus farmhouse severances. A public meeting on the subject is scheduled to take place at the Mitchell Community Centre on Thursday, Sept. 22 beginning at 7:30 pm.

At the meeting, “there will be a discussion between County Council, and they will make a determination as to whether they proceed with the amendments at that time or at some later point,” Rothwell said. “This is a chance for the public to give their view, as they did [in Monkton] on April 14, but on this new proposal to allow for surplus farmhouse severance subject to these policies.”

Surplus farmhouse dwelling severances, currently prohibited in all circumstances in Perth County, would become permitted should the amendment be approved, provided they satisfy the new list of criteria determined by County Council. Rothwell explained some of the provisions to Perth South Council.

“It’s no longer on the basis of an individual, or the exact same ownership,” he said, describing how the new proposed rule differs from a regulation proposed at the public meeting in April. The ownership could be under the name “Nancy Rothwell, Nancy and Allan Rothwell, it could be Allan Rothwell, or it could be some numbered company that we may have a share in. That is clearly much more flexible from the last proposal.”

Next, “the surplus farm dwelling and the lands distributed with it have to be located within the County of Perth,” he said. This would be a far more liberal policy than the previous proposal, which dictated that only property contiguous with a landowner’s home farm operation could be severed.

However, the minimum distance separation (MDS) formula ensuring the nearest home is an acceptable distance away away from any livestock facilities would still need to be satisfied. The area of land being severed must also be no larger than the minimum size required for residential use, and to accommodate appropriate sewage and water services.

The dwelling being made surplus must be at least 10 years old at the time of application. Further, Rothwell said, “the farm property on which the surplus farm dwelling is located must be eligible for the farm property class tax rate program, or the property owner must have a valid farm business registration number.”

Other proposed policies include that the surplus property must not include any barns or structures for housing livestock, and that there be no further dwellings on the remnant farmland.

Mayor Bob Wilhelm and Deputy Mayor Jim Aitcheson, both of whom sit on County Council, said that the vote to take these proposed amendments to a public meeting was not unanimous.

“There were three members from Perth East who voted against this going to a public meeting,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm encouraged all interested Perth South residents to make the trip to Mitchell on Sept. 22.

“It’s the public’s time to have their voice heard,” he said. “We would certainly hope there’s a large attendance.”

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