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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Tuesday, April 19

by Sylene Argent

Council does not support request to accommodate firework storage on 6th Concession

At a statutory Council meeting on Monday, March 28, Essex Council heard public feedback regarding a Site-Specific Zoning Amendment request Victor and Deborah Anber put forward for 6954 6th Concession Road, which asked permission to permanently store professional and consumer display fireworks in existing shipping containers.

  The land is zoned Agricultural District 1.1, which is for general agriculture and farm production support activities. The property consists of 21 hectares of productive farmland and 2.8 hectares of woodlot. It currently houses 28 shipping containers, 22 of which contain fireworks and six contain equipment and personal items.

  The storage of fireworks as an additional permitted use on the property is allowed until May 6, 2022. Essex Council adopted the Zoning Bylaw Amendment in 2019, when the proprietor approached Council then. At the time, the applicants were granted a temporary zoning amendment to provide the applicants with a reasonable opportunity to relocate the storage activity.

  Despite efforts, Anber said he was unable to find a suitable alternative property for his operation.

  Following the March 28 meeting, Essex’s Administration recommended Council amend By-Law 1037, the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law for the Town of Essex, to permit the storage of professional display fireworks at 6954 6th Concession Road in a maximum of 12 storage containers.

  It was also recommended that By-Law 2151, being a By-Law to Amend By-Law 1037, the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law for the Town of Essex, be adopted for a temporary period of one-year to allow for the storage of consumer fireworks in 10 existing storage containers.

  A maximum was put on the storage containers allowed as concerns were heard regarding the volume being stored on the property.

  At the previous public meeting, it was noted there are two classifications of fireworks being stored in 22 storage containers on the property; 12 are professional-grade and ten are used to contain fireworks sold at the retail outlet in Tecumseh for backyard firework displays.

  Council allowed delegates to speak on the matter.

  A neighbour whose property abuts the subject property said she and her husband had concerns about the number of professional fireworks being stored and the required setback, and a fire safety plan. She said they would like Council to go against the recommended zoning amendment, and there should not be any extended temporary use of the storage of display fireworks in storage containers. They would agree if Council would allow Anber four-months to reduce current inventory to find a location to store his supply.

  She said the Town should inspect the site monthly to ensure the reduction of inventory to make sure fireworks are not being added.

  Rita Jabbour, Manager of Planning, said federal regulations determine setbacks between the storage containers and neighbouring buildings. Anber, at the last meeting this was discussed, noted the distance between the shipping containers and neighbouring dwellings was 300m, with the federal regulation requiring a minimum of 59m based on what he is licensed for. Her understanding from Anber is that if a neighbour adds a dwelling on their property and it reduces the minimum setback to the point the minimum is no longer achieved, it will affect Anber’s operation.

  The Town was advised by the Ministry that Anber was meeting all federal regulations, Jabbour said.

  Another concerned resident asked about the Provincial Planning Act and if it gives direction on devaluing several properties to appease one property for financial gain. He believed if the recommendations were passed, the operation would devalue his property, and as a result their taxes would drop, meaning less revenue for the Town.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said Anber had three-years to offload the fireworks, and she realized there was a pandemic, which prevented him from being able to sell his product as events were cancelled. She said this Council needs to deal with the situation, and that Council was lenient in 2019.

  Verbeek said the recommendations Administration put forward were unacceptable, and it cannot be pushed onto the next Term of Council. She said Council is being asked to change the zoning of agricultural lands, and it has been known for years that it is important to keep lands for ag operations.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said it is not a matter of Council going back to its administration to come back with a solution, it was brought forward by a property owner.

When this first came forward, it was the applicant’s responsibility to request a rezoning. It is Council’s job now to make the decision. “The fact they are already here is not the Town’s issue. We need to look at the issue before us; the issue is: does this fit the zoning? Would we change the zoning because it fits other things?” Bjorkman said, adding it is Council’s job to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ He does not believe it does.

  He does feel for Anber, because COVID impacted his ability to move the product.

  No one moved the recommendations Administration put forward.

  Verbeek put a motion forward that Council deny the permanent Site Specific Zoning application amendment, but extend the period with a new temporary by-law, for a period no longer than four-month past the May 6 deadline, to resolve the situation.

  With fireworks season coming up, this would allow the applicant to offload some of his product, she said.

  Mayor Meloche said he would not be in favour as he said he was not sure four months would change anything. He wanted the situation to end at the deadline.

  In a recorded vote, Bondy, Vander Doelen, Meloche, Matyi, Garon were opposed, Bowman, Verbeek, and Bjorkman were in support.

  Motion was defeated.

Council received the report and presentations. 

Council adopts Municipal Election Recount Policy

Council supported the Town of Essex Municipal Election Recount Policy with three readings and further adopted By-Law 2115 on the matter.

  The Report to Council notes where the accuracy of the results is called into question, a recount can be conducted to reinforce confidence among candidates, electors, and election administrators that the results are a true reflection of the votes cast by the participants.

  The Municipal Elections Act (MEA) permits recounts to be conducted in accordance with a policy adopted by Council, the Report to Council notes. The draft Municipal Election Recount Policy presented authorizes the completion of a recount where the vote in an Essex Municipal Election, between an elected candidate and a non-elected candidate, is equal to or less than one half of one percent of the total number of votes cast for the race in which a recount is contemplated.

  According to the MEA, a recount can take place when two or more candidates receive the same number of votes and cannot both or all be declared elected to the office; Council and/or the Minister passes a resolution after the declaration of results requiring a recount of the votes cast for office on Council; or the Superior Court of Justice, upon application by an elector, orders the Clerk to hold a recount.

3% online convenience fee for building permits authorized

Council authorized the addition of an online convenience fee of three percent for fees paid by credit card through Cloudpermit.

  The Report to Council notes in March 2021, Council authorized the procurement of Cloudpermit, the electronic building permit and inspection web-based software.

  Administration “soft-launched” the Residential Building Permit & Inspection platform of Cloudpermit in November 2021. A full launch for external public applications and inspections is forecasted for Fall 2022.

  Cloudpermit allows for residents, builders, and developers to apply and make an online payment for their building permit. Users can still pay via cash or cheque.

  From January through March, the Town collected over $998,500 in revenue through Cloudpermit, but paid nearly $41,000 in credit card fees.

 Funds reallocated for Harrow High School roof

Council approved the reallocation of $20,000 of taxation funding from the new public washrooms/change rooms project at the Harrow Splash to a new 2022 capital project to repair the roof at the Harrow High School.

  The Report on the matter notes that since the Town purchased the building last December, it was noticed there were several areas where water is penetrating through the roof and into the facility.

  To prevent further damage, due to leaks, Administration requested post-budget approval to provide some roofing repairs to mitigate or resolve the leaks.

  “This is a temporary solution until the Town of Essex can have the full building assessment completed and develop a Strategic Plan for the Harrow High School facility,” the Report to Council notes, adding the assessment is underway.

  The Report notes Council approved $220,000 for the new public washrooms/change room at the Harrow Splashpad. The project was tendered and a purchase order has been issued to Barrineti Construction for $163,476.41 and Architecttura for $21,624, leaving a surplus of $34,899.39.

  It was recommended $20,000 of the Harrow Splashpad washroom/change room project funds go towards roof repair at the Harrow High School, and that the remaining $14,899.39 be left for the Harrow Splash Pad Washrooms as a contingency during the construction process.

  “This is just band-aid work, but it really is keeping the doors open, [to] see what we want to do with that building down the road,” Councillor Sherry Bondy said.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said people feel very strongly about, “this potential money pit,” he said does not want to spend another nickel on the project. “Patching that roof is putting a band-aid on a dead white elephant.”

  He said Council wanted the green land surrounding the building. He said housing is needed, not another community centre. He wants to see the building sold-off and turned into housing or bulldozed.

In a recorded vote, only Vander Doelen was opposed. Motion carried.

Total construction cost for March up 169% compared to same month in 2021

Council received the Economic Development report for March, which noted the total construction value, including all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit was $26,149,000.

  This is a 169 percent increase from March 2021.

  “That is phenomenal,” Mayor Richard Meloche said.

  It also noted the average sale price for a home in Wards 1 and 2 was $679,450 in March, compared to $490,208 in the same month in 2021. The average sale price for a home in Wards 3 and 4 was $974,743 in March, compared to $528,028 in the same month in 2021. 

Climate Change Adaptation Plan annual report received

Council received Development Services’ report “Climate Change Adaptation Plan Annual Report” for information.

  Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Services, noted in February of 2021, Council adopted the Climate Change Adaptation Plan, called “Climate Ready,” a strategy that lists various action items to be completed over a five-year period so the Town of Essex could better prepare for and adapt to changing climate.

  The report highlighted actions taken between March 2021 and March 2022.

 Policy for Community Safety Zones adopted

Council adopted Infrastructure Services’ report “Community Safety Zone Policy,” and authorized and directed Infrastructure Services to only install Community Safety Zones, or variations thereof, within the community where applicable in accordance with the Community Safety Zone Policy.

  This report and policy were prepared for Infrastructure Services to objectively analyze and evaluate the need for a Community Safety Zone upon request.

  In the Report to Council, it notes upon receiving a request for a Community Safety Zone, Infrastructure Services will complete an internal review and determine the eligibility of the request. Criteria includes designation of Community Safety Zones should only be considered in areas of special concern for public safety and should only be considered in locations, such as schools, daycares, playgrounds, parks, hospitals or senior citizen residences, or if police determine an unusually high road speed violation or high collision rate, or a if it meets a minimum requirement of other concerns.

  A by-law still needs to be approved by Council to create a Community Safety Zone.

 Part Lot Control Exemption Request for Phase 1

of Parkland Woods approved

Council received Planning report “Part Lot Control Exemption Request for Phase 1 of the Parkland Woods Residential Subdivision (Ward 3).”

  Council also approved Bylaw 2145, to provide that Part Lot Control shall not apply to certain lands within Registered Plan 12M-684, until April 19, 2025.

  The Parkland Woods residential subdivision is located East of County Road 13, just South of 1 Pollard Drive in Harrow. The first phase of the development will include 20 single-detached dwellings and seven semi-detached dwelling lots.

  The report notes Council approval is required to provide for relief from the Part-lot Control restrictions through the Planning Act for lands within a Registered Plan of Subdivision.

 Site Specific Zoning approved, Site Plan Control Amendment

deferred for 1110 Ridge Road

Council received the report “Site Specific Zoning and Site Plan Control Amendment for 1110 Ridge Road (Ward 3)” and adopted Bylaw 2146, amending Bylaw 1037, the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw for the Town of Essex, to permit the construction of two new ancillary dwellings that will accommodate the housing of farm help.

  Council deferred executing and registering Bylaw 2147, to amend Bylaw 1979, the existing Site Plan Control Agreement between the Corporation of the Town of Essex and Upper Canada Growers (UGC) Land INC, for the construction of the two new ancillary dwellings to the next meeting of Council.

  This passed unanimously, with Councillor Sherry Bondy not voting as she declared a Conflict of Interest.

  The Two new ancillary buildings will accommodate farm help at 1110 Ridge Road.

  In February, Council hosted a statutory public meeting to consider the rezoning of the subject property.

  Part of the application included a proposed reduction for the setback between the dwellings and commercial wind turbines that are located on a neighbouring property. The proposed reduction was for 429m, when the Town requires 550m.

  The Ministry of Environment had requested a report to investigate mitigation measures to study any impacts that could arise from the reduced setback. The report has been completed and notes there is a minimal impact, and recommends conditions the Town placed in the Site Plan Control Agreement to buffer the sound, Rita Jabbour, Manager of Planning, noted.

  At the previous Council meeting, the applicant did agree to rearrange his plans, so the ancillary buildings would be further from the turbines than first planned.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek asked for a recorded vote, as she believed the application was coming to Council, after it was said the ancillary buildings could be moved, to instead use the better windows and doors as a sound barrier as outlined in the report about mitigation. She wanted to wait to vote on the matter until Council had a site visit later in the week.

  Jabbour noted the applicant still required the rezoning to be approved to add the ancillary buildings. She noted even if the buildings were moved, they would still fall a little short of the municipal setback requirement. The applicant, she added, is still interested in moving the dwellings further away from the turbines.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen was in favour of approving as presented, as he said people are waiting for the jobs. The growing season does not wait, and it is needed to add to Canada’s food supply.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said Council could pass the by-law that allows the for two buildings to be built, and can later pass the Site Plan Control when Council is assured the buildings were going to be built further away from the wind turbines. He thought this is the right way to do it, and that is how Council decided to move forward.

 Notice of Motion: stained accessible textured crosswalks

for Harrow Streetscape discussed

At the April 4 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion to be debated at the April 19 meeting: that Council have a public discussion about the stained accessible textured crosswalks at the Harrow Streetscape.

  She said it has been a discussion in Harrow, that the rust on the textile mats is staining the cement. She said when they are painted yellow, there is a contrast and it helps with accessibility because they are visible.

  Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure, said the tactile plates were included in the Harrow Streetscape theme. The rustic colour was designed by the landscape architect to ensure it matched the streetscape theme.

Tactile walking surfaces are designed and implemented by AODA accessibility standards, which help those visually impaired to know where the street crossing is.  

  He said Town staff members have been working with the landscape architect to see if there is a solution to the rusting, or a way to stabilize the rusting. He was told, in time, the plates will stop rusting. There is also a paint sealant that can be used when the weather warms, and staff plans to trial the product.

  The surface rust is just aesthetic and is not affecting the quality of the material.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said a sealant could be slippery and may become a hazard.

  Councillor Jason Matyi asked if the rust could be washed away. Girard said staff plans to try that when the weather warms to see if that will work.

  Bondy would like to have a final streetscape walkthrough with Council.

Notices of Motion to be presented May 2:

• Mayor Richard Meloche put forward a Notice of Motion that in recognition of the Essex 73’s approaching its 50th year, and being the Junior “C” franchise team in Ontario with the most wins, Administration be directed to develop insertable gateway signage for the five Essex Centre gateways.

• Councillor Sherry Bondy will ask Council to consider requesting Administration provide an update on stormwater and sewage capacity for all wards.

  • Councillor Jason Matyi will ask Council to consider directing Administration to provide that all licensed applications to operate Short Term Rental (STR) properties established after May 2 require the owner to live in/at the property or within 100m of the property in their primary residence when within a residential-zoned neighbourhood.

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