Local farmers taking Wellington North to land tribunal

Merit hearing scheduled for September

WELLINGTON NORTH – Elgin and Joan Craig have retained a law firm and are appealing Wellington North council’s June decision to deny a minor variance request.

The Craigs, who operate a family beef farm along Highway 6 near Arthur, applied last year to sever a chunk of their land fronting Sideroad 10 West to build a home for retirement.

Wellington County’s land division committee granted provisional consent for the severance in November with 12 conditions — one being that Wellington North’s committee of adjustment would have to allow the Craigs a minor variance.

At issue was the distance between the Craig’s proposed home and a hog barn across the road.

Whereas the township’s zoning bylaw requires 1,854 feet of separation, the Craigs requested council’s approval of 656 feet.

To the family’s disappointment, council members, acting as the adjustment committee, voted against approving the variance.

“The committee did not feel it was minor in nature,” a decision document signed by the committee states.

“The committee felt it would impede agricultural expansion.”

Minimum separations go both ways, also applying to agricultural operations being placed far enough away from residences.

At the June 5 committee meeting, Elgin hinted that an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal, which makes rulings in land use disputes, could be coming.

A June 22 letter from Smith Valeriote Law Firm sent to the township confirms the township is being taken to the tribunal over the committee’s decision.

The letter from Eric Davis states county planners, acting on behalf of the township, had no objections to the requested variance.

It also notes variances to minimum distances between land uses can be considered based on “site-specific circumstances.”

In decisions, consideration must be given as to whether complying with the zoning bylaw would be unreasonable, undesirable or bring undue hardship, the letter spells out.

“Contrary to the planning opinion contained in the (county’s) planning report, the committee denied the minor variance application,” Davis wrote.

A merit hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7, when the case will be presented.