A proposal for a campground on a property fronting on Duval and Aberdeen Roads was the dominant item on the agenda when Champlain Township Council met on August 11.
During a public zoning meeting held at the start of the evening, Consulting Planner Tyler Duval of J.L. Richards and Associates, explained how the applicant, Mario Larabie, proposes to operate a 19-site seasonal trailer camp on 11 hectares/27 acres at the address of 6901 Duval Road. The irregular-shaped property also fronts Aberdeen Road.
Each of the 19 campsites is to have a maximum area of 140 square metres. A building permit has already been issued by the township for a single-family home to be constructed on the property, where the owner will reside.
In order to allow the proposed campground to proceed, council will need to adopt a Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) to change the zoning to Commercial Tourist-Special Exception (CT-1) from the present Rural (RU) zoning. The CT-1 zoning will permit three uses on the property, the house being constructed, the campsites, and accessory buildings for the campsites.
Duval told council it conforms with the Provincial Policy Statement and United Counties of Prescott and Russell Official Plan.
The application for the ZBA was first received by the township in late May. A required Environmental Impact Study (EIS) found no foreseen adverse impacts upon the woodlands and wildlife habitat on the property.
As of August 11, the township had received 14 letters from nearby residents objecting to the proposed campground and more than 40 residents, most of whom oppose the development, were in the audience at the council meeting. Councillors also had many questions and comments about the campground.
“Has there been a noise study done or will one be required for this?” asked Councillor Troy Carkner.
Duval said only an EIS was required but added, “You’re not alone with your questions about noise.”
Duval said a noise study could be requested when site plan control is discussed, but that step would follow the ZBA.
Councillor Gerry Miner said he counted more than 19 trailer sites on the map. The map shows 21 sites.
Duval said the proposed by-law limits the number of sites to 19.
“It’s the information that’s important and not the drawing,” Miner responded.
“Are the owners residing on the property right now?” asked Councillor André Roy.
Duval said he was not sure, but because a building permit was issued, he anticipated someone would be living there.
Councillor Sarah Bigelow said she had received many phone calls, emails, and text messages about the proposed campground, including some angry comments.
“I was a little disappointed to find out a lot of work was done on the property before the application was even submitted,” said Bigelow.
A stop-work order for the site had been issued by the township, but Bigelow believed that work had continued during the previous week. She also wondered if the property owner could decide to expand the campground in the future.
Duval said any expansion would require another ZBA to be adopted by council.
“Is this ultimately a business?” Councillor Peter Barton asked. He inquired if the campground is for friends or family of the owners, or if it is a business with the potential for other additions such as a restaurant or bar.
Duval said zoning being proposed does not take that potential into account.
No individuals from the audience spoke in favour of the proposed campground, but residents opposed to it did speak.
“I believe there’s just not enough information to make the decision,” said Geordie MacLaren.
He wondered if a traffic study should be done.
“How much more tax revenue is this going to bring to help that little bit of road infrastructure?” remarked MacLaren.
Resident Jason MacKinnon was concerned the site plan could end up being different than what is approved by council.
“What is the difference between this and a plan of subdivision?” he commented, remarking that at least with plan of subdivision a traffic study would be required, and the roads would have to be upgraded.
MacKinnon said he lives directly across from the property and explained that the Little Rideau Creek Drain flows from there onto his property. He is concerned at least 19 people will be using a possibly insufficient septic system that drains into forest he owns.
Louis Turcotte, who owns two adjacent properties, is concerned about how the campground could affect the value of his property where he chose to spend retirement.
“My property will lower in value, it’s guaranteed,” he said.
Larabie told the audience that the septic system was approved by engineers, is fully adequate, and confirmed he will be living in the house to be constructed on the property.
Rather than council proceeding with the first two readings of the ZBA at the August 11 meeting, it was decided to wait for the final report from the public meeting and further comments from residents.
“No decisions tonight,” said the mayor.
“It’s in regard to all of the complaints, we want to have time to have them all in,” added Riopel.
“There’s still a lot of unanswered questions,” said MacLaren outside the council chamber following the public meeting. He said it is still unclear if the campground is to be a commercial business.
“I think all of the details were vague,” said MacKinnon.
Back inside the council chamber, a further discussion took place before approving the receipt of the planning report on the campground ZBA.
Duval described the uses permitted under the CT zoning as “shrink wrapped” to limit activities on the property.
Carkner asked why there could not be a site plan agreement before the zoning change. Duval said the rules are set up in a way where zoning changes are to be made first, and then the site plan is to be checked against zoning. He continued, saying a site plan can require further studies, but the site plan would have to conform to zoning, which it does not under the present rural zoning.
Bigelow moved to receive the planning report on the proposed campground. The motion was seconded by Miner and was carried.