The Blue Mountains council has deferred a rezoning application that would have allowed a Monterra Road property to be converted into a Short Term Accommodation (STA) operation.
At its committee of the whole meeting on June 21, council considered a staff report that recommended approval for a zoning bylaw amendment for 689667 Monterra Road. The request was to rezone the property to resort residential, to allow an STA usage.
The proposal generated opposition around the council table and from the public. Local resident Terry Kellar made a presentation to council opposing the rezoning and another member of the public wrote a letter in opposition.
Members of council were reluctant to support the recommendation, citing previous infractions at the property.
In her report on the matter, Planner Natalya Garrod said: “It is noted that the subject property has been the location of past violations and charges for operating a Short Term Accommodation use without a licence.”
Mayor Alar Soever said there is confusion about the application. He said there were previous STA infractions at the property. He also suggested questions about the property’s current usage were not answered clearly by the proponent at the public meeting about the application. He noted the planning application submitted to the town said the current use of the property is residential.
Town planning staff advised that they must focus on applicable planning matters when dealing with an application and not on previous bylaw infractions.
The discussion led CAO Shawn Everitt to comment on the application.
“The planning report is the planning report and is not necessarily about the infractions. Do we have those infractions on the record? Yes we do,” said Everitt.
The report from Garrod also made it clear that a successful rezoning did not entitle the proponent to a license for a STA operation.
Coun. Rob Sampson said he was extremely concerned that approval of the proposal would result in a “flood of applications” if council allows a property in the residential 1 (R1-1) zone to be rezoned for STA usage.
“I am worried about this opening it up. I’m not sure we would be wise to start that landslide because I’m not sure we have the policies to stop it,” he said.
Senior Policy Planner Shawn Postma advised that there are very strict and restrictive criteria in place for residential properties to be rezoned for STA usage.
“It’s very difficult for a new STA to open up outside those exception areas,” said Postma. “This site does meet those requirements.”
The previous infractions at the property were a major sticking point for members of council.
“My buck stops at the former infractions,” said Coun. Paula Hope. “I’m not in favour of moving forward on this based specifically on those infractions.”
The committee eventually voted to receive the staff report, but deferred making a decision on the rezoning application until more information can be brought forward by staff.