Central Huron approves Cowbell outdoor zoning - Feb. 8, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Central Huron Council has granted Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company a two-year temporary use bylaw to host outdoor concerts, sports events and activities, subject to a number of conditions and amendments.
The issue was discussed at council’s Monday night meeting after first being raised in January. While the application was initially for a three-year term, council reduced the term to two years and has vowed to continue to monitor the company’s events and their impact on neighbouring residents.
In addition, a second amendment to the bylaw is that the company can only host three private events at the Blyth location with an additional two municipally-significant events in one year, meaning that council would have to approve them and Cowbell would have to demonstrate worth to the municipality.
Furthermore, whenever Cowbell would like to host an event that is expected to contravene the municipality’s noise bylaw, the company has to apply for an exemption to the noise bylaw, which then has to be approved by council.
It was this approval that helped put Councillor Alex Westerhout and his colleagues at peace with approving the bylaw. If the company is found to be in violation of the rules stated in the agreement – such as a concert playing beyond the agreed-upon time or poor management of pedestrian or vehicular traffic – then council simply wouldn’t grant an exemption the next time one was requested. In that way, Westerhout said, council retained power.
Further to the bylaw that was proposed in January, planner Laura Simpson said that an amendment had been made that Cowbell would enter into a memorandum of understanding with North Huron regarding use of the township’s campground. In that document, Simpson said, the township hoped the company would agree that Cowbell grounds would be used for overnight camping only in the event that the township campground by the community centre was full.
Simpson said that document had yet to be signed by either party, but that it was her understanding that it had been drafted and reviewed by both parties and would likely be signed in the near future.
Councillors Alison Lobb and Marg Anderson continued to be concerned about the noise that would be created by such outdoor events and the effect they would have on residents.
Lobb latched onto a suggestion by Cowbell neighbour Sarah Cherrey at the Jan. 15 meeting, suggesting that there should be an acoustic audit after every event to ensure the company was keeping the sound at a reasonable volume. Anderson agreed that there should be some sort of audio monitoring for these events.
The Cherreys were on-hand Monday night and reiterated many of their concerns regarding noise, parking and trespassing. Sarah said she felt council was focusing on things like traffic and camping when they should be concerned about the sound and the effect it will have on the neighbours.
However, Chief Administrative Officer Steve Doherty said that noise monitoring couldn’t be written into the bylaw and that, furthermore, there would be a substantial cost associated with such an audit and the municipality shouldn’t have to pay for it, but then couldn’t impose it on the applicant either.
He said that if Cowbell was found to be in violation of the agreed-upon terms, either with Central Huron or North Huron, there would be consequences, such as a fine.
Some councillors, however, felt that a fine wouldn’t prove to be a successful deterrent and that’s when Westerhout said the only way to ensure the company complies with the agreement would be to not issue further noise bylaw exemptions if the terms of the agreement are violated.
Doherty agreed, saying this has been relatively new ground for the municipality. Central Huron has an outdoor events bylaw for community events, such as Pluc’Kin Fest or the Clinton Spring Fair or any event that includes fireworks, but nothing that really handles consistent outdoor events being held by a private business. Perhaps, he said, one should be developed if the business is aiming to host these events on a long-term basis.
He also reminded council that with the way the property is zoned right now, the company can hold outdoor events, but this bylaw essentially represents a “fact-finding mission” to see if the company can support the construction of an outdoor amphitheatre and hosting outdoor events on a consistent basis.
Westerhout said that by approving the bylaw for two years, that would allow Cowbell to host 10 events. He said that council will definitely know if the arrangement is going to work or not by the end of that term.
He also felt that council was addressing many of the issues that would need to be addressed if/when the company applies for a permanent bylaw and that council needed to give the arrangement a try and give Cowbell the opportunity to comply with the agreement.
Council passed the bylaw for a term of two years after passing the two amendments.