By Dan Rankin
On Thursday at Perth County Council there was a major and – for many Perth South farmers at least – pleasing development in the long saga of Perth County farmers seeking permission to sever off farmhouses that were surplus to their needs as a result of farm consolidation. According to Director of Planning and Development Allan Rothwell, the matter came to a vote at County Council yesterday and the official plan amendment was approved.
The amendment that was passed was generally supported by the public at a meeting held in Mitchell on Sept. 22, as well as at a previous meeting in Monkton. However, Rothwell noted that included in the measure that was passed was a stipulation that the only acceptable land use on surplus farmhouse property is “residential.” That means the severed land cannot be the site of warehouses for a business or for buildings housing livestock. There were several people that spoke at the public meeting Sept. 22 hoping the amendment would be changed to permit hobby farming or other businesses on the single-acre surplus properties, but that will have to be a fight for another day.
The added amendment appears to have arisen from a resolution passed by North Perth Council, recommending to County Council that “an additional policy be included in the Official Plan to address permitted uses on farm surplus dwelling properties (i.e. secondary farm occupation not a permitted use)”. Resolutions from Perth South and West Perth were in favour of supporting the amendment as it appeared in an Aug. 4 report by Rothwell and at the Sept. 22 meeting. Perth East recommended “retaining the existing policy in the Official Plan which prohibits surplus farmhouse severances”.
Also approved by County Council on Thursday was an amendment to permit the creation of a new haul road for St. Marys Cement trucks travelling to and from an aggregate extraction facility on Thomas Street. The road will let them bypass Thomas Street’s intersection with Queen Street, thus reducing traffic in the area. The proposed road would direct trucks carrying aggregate north and west of St. Marys to Road 139 (Queen Street West) between Maple Leaf Foods and Murphy Bus Lines. It would also be used by trucks returning to the site.
Stephen Cornwell, also of the County Planning and Development Department, presented on the proposed road to Perth South Council on Tuesday morning. The road requires an amendment to permit the construction of a haul road and a soil berm for an aggregate operation on agricultural land.
“I see it as a positive,” Perth South Coun. Sam Corriveau said. “I know we’re giving up a little agricultural land but, as far as safety, I think it’s very positive.”
Perth South Council passed a recommendation Tuesday to County Council to approve the proposed road, but to include the provision that, for every tree cut down in the road’s construction, three or four new ones be planted within the municipality.
Rothwell said there was plenty of discussion about the road Thursday at County Council, including one piece of correspondence that was not in support of its construction. However, there were also letters in support of the road, as well as residents of Thomas Street in St. Marys in attendance who spoke in favour of its creation. Mayor Al Strathdee and CAO Brent Kittmer also spoke on behalf of the Town of St. Marys in support of the application, Rothwell said.
The road amendment is now subject to a 20-day appeal period, Rothwell said, at which time the applicant (St. Marys Cement Inc.) will “deal with the Township of Perth South for a zoning by-law amendment” and the county’s land division committee for an easement for a right of way over the Maple Leaf Foods property.