North Huron supports Cowbell rezoning, but has concerns - Jan. 18, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
A temporary zoning change that could be re-issued indefinitely for Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company has raised a few eyebrows with North Huron Council.
As the company is actually located in Central Huron, North Huron was only invited to comment on the application and couldn’t push for approval or dismissal, however there were several concerns shared by councillors when the temporary rezoning was presented during council’s Monday night meeting.
The change would allow Cowbell to host events including concerts and festivals on property east of County Road 4 while having parking and camping on Cowbell’s property west of County Road 4.
The document would allow Cowbell to host events up to five times a year. Each event could be three days in length with at least three days before the next event begins.
The change was discussed at Central Huron earlier in the evening where concerns were brought forward and comments from North Huron staff were presented. Those comments, however, were not vetted or approved by council due to the timing of the two meetings.
Comments included concern with lands affected by the zoning change being used for camping when North Huron operates a fully-serviced campground in the village.
Staff were also in support of festivals, concerts and other activities happening on the land owned by Cowbell on the east side of County Road 4 as well as parking located on properties on the west side of County Road 4, accessed via County Road 25.
Council agreed with staff’s comments that the Blyth Campground at the Blyth Community Centre should be the primary campground for visitors and that overflow camping could be permitted on Cowbell land for events.
Huron County Planner Laura Simpson said the zoning change had been deferred by Central Huron Council in light of concerns brought forward by North Huron staff, council and ratepayers.
Aside from the comments from staff, council had several comments for future discussions regarding the temporary zoning change.
Councillor Bill Knott said he had a variety of concerns from both himself and ratepayers, saying one of his primary concerns was having a competing campground so close to the community, even if it was temporary.
His next concern was that the date of Central Huron’s next meeting was Feb. 5, the same as North Huron’s, providing no official chance for council to seek public input.
Knott also took issue with the fact that large volumes of traffic would be on County Roads 25 and 4 when these events occur and said there wasn’t a plan for that kind of congestion or the kind of pedestrian traffic that would be created by having parking and the venue on opposite sides of County Road 4.
Simpson explained that a traffic safety plan would be completed for each event, however Knott wanted to see a sample plan submitted before the rezoning was approved.
The potential permanence of the change concerned Knott as well. He said in his reading of the legislation around the temporary zone change, there was no time limit on how long Central Huron could continue to approve it.
For being “temporary”, Knott said it could become quite permanent as it was a three-year change that could be renewed at any point for another three years, and another, and another. Simpson did not refute the claim.
“There is no comment as to when you have to stop using your cornfield as an event space,” he said, asking if Cowbell could put up structures on the land.
Simpson explained that the land would only be temporarily used for events when Central Huron approved it, so any structures would have to meet the permanent zoning of the land being used, both of which are agricultural.
Finally, Knott asked how the change would affect taxation on the land.
“What happens with [the Municipal Property Assesment Corporation (MPAC)]?” he asked. “How will it be taxed if it’s being used for commercial purposes.”
Simpson said she couldn’t answer that, which didn’t surprise Knott as, when he contacted the company, MPAC wasn’t able to provide an answer either.
Reeve Neil Vincent Vincent asked what percentage of the lands could be used under the zoning change, with Simpson saying everything in the two addresses listed could be used.
Other concerns included entrances to the properties, both location and the requirements that they would be built to and future considerations for Blyth if these events are advertised as being “Blyth” events.
Vincent said he had an “off-the-wall” notion that a segment of Blyth Road be transferred to North Huron to allow them to better service the lands if necessary.
“There may be services that are required, and, maybe something in the long range is a strip along the south side of Blyth Road could actually come to North Huron from Central Huron,” he said. “That would be a long, drawn-out process... I would like for North Huron, in the future, to be able to cross the road and do the servicing on sewer and water that are part of a North Huron system without having to go through the rigamarole of cross-border servicing.”
Despite the concerns, Knott said North Huron wanted to extend a note of support to Central Huron Council and the applicant, provided safety concerns were met.
Council directed staff to send an updated later to Central Huron including comments from the discussion.