The Blue Mountains council has denied a rezoning application that would have allowed a bed and breakfast on a residential property near the Village at Blue.
A recent public meeting about the rezoning revealed many neighbourhood concerns about the proposal. In addition, at the committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 28, members of council expressed concerns that the owner of the property – Regiane Filizola – does not currently reside at the property located on Martin Grove, not far from the village.
Town planning staff recommended that council approve the rezoning application, as the proposal had met all planning criteria for a bed and breakfast. However, a recommended resolution to approve the application was defeated in a 5-1 vote with only Coun. Shawn McKinlay in favour, Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon was absent.
Subsequently, council passed a resolution denying the application with the same voting results as the earlier resolution.
At the outset of the discussion on the matter, Coun. Paula Hope – who chairs the planning portion of committee of the whole meetings –emphasized that the discussion was about the land use rezoning application and not the licensing aspect of operating a bed and breakfast.
Even with a rezoning approved, the property owner would still require a license on the property to operate the bed and breakfast. Licensing is a completely separate process from rezoning.
By town rules, the owner/operator of a bed and breakfast business is required to be living at the residence full-time. Members of council repeatedly expressed reservations about the proposal, because the property owner does not currently reside in the home. At the public meeting, Filizola said she planned to move to the property soon.
“Why entertain the rezoning when the applicant is not living there now?” Mayor Andrea Matrosovs asked.
Town planning Carter Triana said the property owner had made an application for the rezoning and the town was “bound” to consider the request.
“There’s nothing that says (the application) can’t be submitted when they’re not living there,” said Triana.
Coun. June Porter asked if the zoning could be conditional on a license application being approved. Porter said the applicant was essentially asking to change the zoning on the property for “a planned future use.”
In response, Triana said the rezoning and the licensing were separate processes.
“This is dealing with the use of the land,” he said.
Hope also cited the number of concerns raised by neighbouring property owners to the proposal and suggested the property owner work with the local community before changing the land use allowed on their home.
“Some relationship building needs to be done,” said Hope.
McKinlay was the lone member of council to vote in favour of the rezoning.
“This applicant has done their diligence. They made an application and checked all the boxes,” he said, noting that many of the concerns being expressed could be addressed during the licensing process. “That’s why we have a licensing program, one of the best.”
There will be one final vote by council at the next regular meeting to ratify the decision.