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Grey Highlands council rejects wood shop proposed on farm

Five council members voted against a special request to add the woodshop to a 16-hectare farm near Flesherton, but bylaws would have permitted the request for a 20-hectare farm
Grey Highlands council rejected an official planning amendment for a proposed new commercial woodworking shop on property just north of Flesherton.

Grey Highlands council has rejected a proposal to put a commercial woodshop on a farm outside of Flesherton, amid worries it would set an unsustainable precedent. 

At a recent meeting, council voted 5-2 to reject an Official Plan amendment that would have allowed a commercial woodshop to be built on a property just outside of Flesherton at Highway 10 and Grey Highlands Road 132. The proposal required both an official amendment and a rezoning.

The woodshop would be considered an on-farm diversified use, which the municipality's official plan does allow on properties that are 20 hectares or larger. The lot in question is four hectares short. 

A recent public meeting on the matter generated no opposition, but members of council were still leery of allowing the proposal on the smaller lot.

Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen said he is concerned allowing the proposal would set a precedent.

“There are concerns with moving forward with an official plan amendment ... The concern stems from setting precedents and the volume and number of requests that could come forward if council is to approve this,” said Nielsen.

Matt Rapke, manager of planning, explained in a report that planning staff felt the amendment for the operation on a slightly undersized lot was appropriate. Rapke noted that the original lot was 20 hectares in size, but had been reduced by severances and land taken for the two nearby road allowances.

“While the county official plan does have a minimum lot area requirement of 20 hectares for on-farm diversified uses within agricultural areas, it contains no minimum lot area requirement within the rural designation. Neither official plan provides explicit reasoning for this minimum area requirement. In the opinion of planning staff there is no significant objective difference between a 16-hectare lot and a 20-hectare lot in terms of whether or not the lot can support a legitimate farming operation or on-farm diversified use,” Rapke said in his report.

Mayor Paul McQueen also said the municipality has allowed such uses on undersized lots in the past.

“It’s not the first time we’ve had slightly undersized parcels that council in the past has approved,” said McQueen. “It still meets the test of what we’re trying to achieve through our official plan.”

McQueen and councillor Tom Allwood were the lone members of council to vote in favour of the amendment.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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