Council alters zoning to allow monster truck rides

Town council has approved a zoning amendment to allow a Harriston business to offer monster truck rides after modifying a draft lease agreement to address neighbours’ concerns.

In December, Minto council received a request from Murray Marquardt of Stones ‘n More to lease several acres of vacant land in the Harriston Industrial Park.

Marquardt proposed creating a track to offer rides on the land behind his store on Highway 9 in the industrial park. Rides would be provided on a monster truck equipped with governors limiting the speed.

At a May 3 public meeting, several neighbours objected to the proposal over concerns about potential noise, vibration and the possible expansion of the operation to events involving multiple trucks.

In response, council directed staff to prepare a new draft lease addressing the concerns.

At the May 17 meeting, CAO Bill White noted in a report that “At no time was anything contemplated for the lands that involved anything but rides for children on one vehicle with speed control on very low-lying grade changes built on-site.”

Council was presented with a revised lease for a six-acre section of the property that specifically allows use of only one “approved” vehicle that “does not create dust, noise, odour or vibration likely to disturb people in the area.”

The vehicle is also required to have speed control limiting it to 10km/hour, and sufficient exhaust to meet emissions and prevent noise.

The agreement allows rides to be provided between the May long weekend and Thanksgiving long weekend each year, with exceptions for special occasions outside that period. The report notes the town can automatically cancel the lease if there is any violation of the agreement.

Several councillors who attended a demonstration of the truck at Marquardt’s property said they did not feel the noise it generates is excessive.

“I was very happy with the noise level,” stated councillor Mary Lou Colwell. “My car was louder to be quite honest with you. It’s got a good muffler system on it. I think if he maintains that noise level I can’t see there being an issue.”

Councillor Dave Turton said, “I rode in the monster truck. We had the decibel meter there, and it’s quiet.”

Councillor Jean Anderson added, “He started it up, and I went ‘is that it? Is that all it does?’ … I think the lease covers any issues that could arise. If there’s a problem we’ll deal with it.”

Council received the report and later in the meeting passed a bylaw authorizing the signing of the lease, pending passage of a temporary-use zoning amendment.

The three-year lease calls for Marquardt to pay $200 per acre for the use of the land, which the town says is comparable to the amount generated by the previous use as rented agricultural land.

The lease contains a clause allowing the town to terminate the agreement with 90 days notice should an opportunity arise to develop the land for a permanent use.

Councillor Judy Dirksen declared a conflict and did not participate in the discussion or votes on the matter, as her family farming operation was the previous lessee of the land in question.