Let the chips fall where they may: proposal is grilled by local residents

Residents here do not relish the idea of a chip wagon in their community.

At least one petition with 75 signatures was handed to Wellington North council during a public meeting May 17, and it seems two more may be on their way.

After a failed attempt last year to operate a market, Philip Green and Roxanne Caughill are trying for a chip wagon on their property on Highway 6 at the southern end of Kenil­worth. The site is currently occupied by an antique store.

Green and Caughill were at council Monday night looking to add a legal use to their property – a chip wagon and port­able washroom. Currently, the hamlet’s commercial zone on their property restricts uses to one residential dwelling and one antique store (with related accessory sales and services).

Last year, the couple made an application to have a farmers market on the 1.26 acre property, in additional to the antique store and residence.

For that proposal, a number of concerns were raised by the Ministry of Transportation, primarily related to traffic. Concerns were resolved with a proposal limiting the use to the antique store and residence.

In her report to council, Wellington County planner Sarah Wilhelm stated the variance the couple wants would provide for a chip wagon.

Wilhelm’s report stated she is satisfied such flexibility is war­ranted in this situation as the full extent of the property is within a commercial zone and, as such, she would consider the entire property to form part of the hamlet. She stated that at 220 square feet, the chip wagon would be considered small scale.

Although there were initially no objections from the planning department, additional information generated more concerns.

Planner Mark Van Patter, who was at the meeting, said, “It largely comes down to whether council wants to entertain a chip wagon there.”

He did, however, seem surprised the MTO?had not re­sponded about the proposal.

Jim Quarrie who owns property to the south of the couple’s lands and who owns Wellington North Tire to the rear of the property, asked if No Parking signs would be installed on Highway 6.

“There’s congestion, and it’s a hellhole to get out of, off Sideroad 7,” he said. “Until I see more, and whether I know this will enhance Kenilworth or make it look like a little ghetto … I’ve got to be against it.”

Lorna Wilson, owner of the Kenilworth restaurant, offered the petition, and added there are at least two others coming against the chip wagon and a portable toilet.

Wilson said last summer, it seemed the antique store sent all its customers to the restaurant – to use its washrooms.

“We had a line up from one door to the other … and they were going to buy a bottle of water.”

When she wanted to create her restaurant in Kenilworth, she had to pay $30,000 to have a new septic system installed.

“If they’re going to have a store and chip wagon now … don’t they have to put a septic system in?” Wilson was also concerned with parking.

“On a Saturday in Kenil­worth [traffic] is a nightmare, trying to get onto Highway 6. It’s only going to be worse with people stopping on the road to get chips.”

Mayor Mike Broomhead agreed comments are needed from the MTO.

Van Patter said the MTO?will be responding, simply because it was a major issue in the last rezoning. “A chip wagon may tend to involve people stopping at the side of the road, whereas with an antique store they would drive in to the parking area.”

Caughill said she was told if the chip wagon is placed closer to the back of the property, there should not be a problem with traffic. “We have no control on the number of vehicles travelling down Highway 6.”

She said the antique business is not required to provide a washroom, and neither does a chip wagon, because it is not a sit-down restaurant.

Caughill said the only reason the portable toilet was being brought in is because there were problems last summer. “It is to look after our customers. I’m trying to correct the problem.”

In addition to traffic concerns, the proposed use might be tripped up by health regulations. Caughill said the trailer is inspected regularly by the health unit to make sure everything is fine.

As for a water supply, plans were either to get a hose from a neighboring property, or to bring in a water tank that could be filled. The portable toilet already has sanitizer there.

Councillor Ross Chaulk said the proponents will find if a chip wagon is there “So many people are going to slam on the brakes to turn in that the MTO?is going to have serious concerns.”

He said council worked with the proponents in the initial rezoning, and uses were restricted then.

“Right now, I have to be convinced,” he concluded.

Councillor John Matusinec also has concerns with traffic.

“If the MTO?doesn’t have a problem, I don’t have a problem with the idea of a trial period, to see if it does cause problems. But I really would be surprised if the MTO?has changed its stance on it.”

Matusinec pointed out that MTO?does typically not allow signage.

Broomhead said council will take the petitions into consideration. And he noted that without the MTO response, council is not ready to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

The health requirements may also be a stumbling block.

Van Patter said the water issue must be dealt with before council makes a decision.