For the second straight meeting, Grey Highlands council has voted against a proposal to locate a commercial woodshop on property just outside of Flesherton.

Council found itself in the unusual position of dealing with essentially the same issue for two meetings in a row at its session on Sept. 6. The proposal would see what’s referred to as an “on-farm diversified use” in the form of a commercial woodshop located on a 16-hectare property just outside of Flesherton on Highway 10. Planning regulations state that OFDUs must be on lots 20 hectares in size.

At its previous meeting on Aug. 16, council voted 5-2 against the Official Plan amendment for the proposal. However, at that same meeting, council did not consider the zoning bylaw amendment after staff suggested it wasn’t necessary with the official plan amendment having been rejected.

Two weeks later, the zoning amendment was back before council with staff recommending that a decision in some form had to be made on the application. Staff suggested four options for council to consider: deny the amendment, approve the amendment and if it is not appealed it would become law, approve the zoning amendment and then pass a motion to reconsider and approve the previously rejected official plan amendment or do nothing and make no decision.

Once again council was divided on the issue and the proposal generated a significant discussion and debate. Ultimately, council voted 4-2 in favour of denying the proposed amendment. Mayor Paul McQueen and Coun. Tom Allwood opposed the move. Coun. Dan Wickens was absent.

“I don’t see the reasons why this one can’t be supported,” said McQueen, who said although the lot was slightly undersized it was still capable of supporting the proposed woodshop. “There has to be a way to make it work.”

Allwood agreed and said that land from the property had been used for road expansion/upgrades and that was the main reason it was undersized.

“I think we should be supporting this,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen moved the motion to deny the application and said he was concerned about locating a commercial/industrial operation close to a nearby church and future cemetery.

“As a one-off, I have concerns about a [commercial use] being located next to an institutional location. They’re proposing putting a cemetery there. This application does not suit the location,” he said.

Nielsen also said the time to debate the overall issue of lot sizes for on-farm diversified uses should happen during the municipality’s zoning amendment update process, which is underway.

In response, Allwood called the concerns about the proximity of the church and proposed cemetery a “red herring” and asked for planning staff’s opinion on that matter.

Matt Rapke, the municipality’s manager of planning, confirmed that the proposed woodshop met the minimum distance separation requirement of 70 metres.

The discussion ended with council deciding to deny the proposal in a recorded vote.

By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Sep 12, 2023 at 17:00

This item reprinted with permission from   Collingwood, Ontario
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