Wenona Lk. development decision delayed
File sent back to county planning department for comment
By Angelica Ingram
Published Feb. 14, 2017
A zoning amendment application has been put on hold following some new information the municipality of Dysart et al received.
A public meeting held on Feb. 6 to approve a zoning amendment for the lands of Sunderji, located on Wenona Lake, saw some confusion over how to proceed with the file following an environmental impact assessment the municipality received.
The assessment was written by Glenside Ecological Services’ Paul Heaven, a wildlife biologist, after he was hired by Keith and Susan Hay to review the site evaluation and impact assessment prepared by Michalski Nielsen Associates Limited.
Heaven’s review was done following a decision made in July 2016 by the Haliburton County Land Division Committee, where the committee granted consent to Sunderji to sever the property into four parcels of land.
The applicant is now applying to rezone the property from rural type 1 zone and environmental protection to a waterfront residential zone and environmental protection.
Planning director for the municipality Patricia Martin said the municipality has received several written submissions about the application, outlining concerns such as an impact on wildlife, increased boat traffic and wetland protection.
The entire property, which measures 53 acres, was purchased by Mumtaz Sunderji.
Acting as the agent for the applicant, Greg Bishop spoke to concerns he had with Heaven’s report and its impact on the planning process.
The file was first started in 2012, said Bishop, and a significant amount of time and investment was spent over the past five years.
Bishop said the severance portion of the application has already been decided by the county and is not in the municipality’s purview.
“The severance has been heard and decided,” said Bishop.
He added that Heaven had not been on the applicant’s property and had submitted a “desktop review” to the municipality.
“I am dumbfounded Paul Heaven would put his name on this report,” said Bishop.
The report from Heaven outlines two issues with the Sunderji property, that it may contain American ginseng, an endangered plant, and that part of it may be a wetland.
Heaven states in his report that if it does contain American ginseng, the provincial policy statement, county’s official plan and township’s official plan prohibit development in the habitat of American ginseng.
Evidence of American ginseng was found by the Hays, who submitted photographs to Heaven from a neighbouring property to the applicant’s. In his report, Heaven confirmed that three of the four photos he received from the Hays were American ginseng.
According to Heaven’s report, wetlands should be assessed using a provincial wetland evaluation system.
“The provincial policy statement, county official plan and municipality of Dysart official plan prohibit development in provincially significant wetlands,” it reads.
Martin had suggested to the committee that based on the new information presented by Heaven, the file be deferred and reviewed by the county’s land division committee.
Bishop didn’t believe sending the file back to the county was going to help anyone and reminded the committee the application before them was strictly about zoning, and not about severing the property.
“The whole report has caused a ripple effect in the planning process ... it has nothing to do with zoning,” said Bishop.
During a PowerPoint presentation, Keith Hay showed photographs of the property and outlined some of its features, including it being home to a beaver pond.
Hay said concerns about the application revolved around the presence of endangered species such as American ginseng.
He requested a site evaluation be done to see if it does in fact exist on the property and that the application be deferred.
President of the Miskwabi Area Community Association, which encompasses Wenona Lake, Andy Mosher and vice-president Peter Dilworth spoke to their concerns with the zoning application.
Mosher said the lake is already “highly developed” and that the association would like to see a boating capacity study done.
MACA believes the recreation carrying capacity for the lake is already stressed and that the water in the bay is too shallow for boats and swimming.
Chair of the committee and Dysart Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts said she didn’t see the value in a boating study as the property in question was so shallow and weedy, there was no way a motor boat could be launched there.
Discussion over restricting the size of a dock that could be installed was had, which the committee agreed could be written into the zoning application.
A resolution to defer the file and send it back to the land division committee was tabled, which Roberts said was not the appropriate channel, as it should be sent back to the county and not the committee.
Roberts is a member of the land division committee.
The committee voted unanimously to defer the file and send it to Haliburton County planning director Charlsey White for direction.
The application will come back to Dysart council at its March 6 public meeting. Heaven could not be reached for comment by press time.