Rejects donation offer of three properties
CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Letters have gone out to property owners in the former Carter Bay Development informing them that they have until May 31 to remove items from their properties that are not in compliance with municipal bylaws. Meanwhile, Central Manitoulin council has declined the donation of several properties in the development largely on “ethical” as well as practical grounds.
“Have letters gone out to property owners at Carter Bay?” queried Central Manitoulin Councillor Derek Stephens during an October 26 council meeting.
“Yes they have,” replied Clerk Ruth Frawley.
The issue of how to deal with those property owners who have built structures or moved trailers and other structures onto their properties in the Carter Bay area has been debated at length at council.
The property in question is zoned as planned development, which was in response to a controversial development that saw the land “checker boarded” through the use of two holding companies. No building permits for lots sold in the development could be issued until a plan of subdivision was submitted by the developers and approved. Despite years of property sales and development work in the Carter Bay area, which includes many species at risk and sensitive habitats and a signature dune system, no plan of subdivision was ever filed.
The Carter Bay properties were recently purchased by a single owner and consolidated under a single holding company, removing the checker boarding and creating a single large property.
As a consequence, there were some questions as to whether the planned development designation was any longer required. A series of delegations by concerned property owners (including representatives of the new owner of the unsold lots) in the late summer voiced objections to any lifting of restrictions on development in the area after council put “on hold” a previous compliance letter to a land owner who had built a structure on his land. First Nations representation also cautioned against development in the area as it is considered as being of high historical and cultural interest.
The text of the letter to property owners is as follows: “This letter is to inform you that after some lengthy discussions, council has given direction to the bylaw department to give notice to property owners in the Carter Bay Planned Development Zone that are in contravention of the Municipal Area Zoning By-law 2002-07 Section 7.20-Planned Development Zone, to remove in their entirety all structures, trailers, appurtenances and that the site be brought back to its natural state by no later than May 31, 2018. In the event that compliance has not been achieved by the above date, the municipality may take further action. We thank you for continuing to help make our municipality a great and safe place to live.”
The letter is signed by the municipal bylaw enforcement officer.
Councillor Stephens has regularly questioned whether the planned development restrictions were still required and suggested that property owners who wish to build on their properties approach the Manitoulin Planning Board for the required amendments to the Manitoulin Official Plan, but also insisted that the municipality’s bylaws be respected and enforced.
When the question of the proposed donation of three properties in the Carter Bay Development area (in return for a tax receipt) came up later in the council meeting, debate on a motion to accept the donation moved by Councillor Ted Taylor and Councillor Dale Scott circled around two fronts.
Councillor Alex Baran cited concerns raised by the municipal auditor in opposing acceptance. “I felt the concerns were well grounded,” he said. “Why are we buying it? Is there a public service? Acquisition of land should be for a specific purpose.”
Councillor Scott suggested that the value of the properties would “be realized in the future whether we keep or sell it. It will have value.”
Councillor Stephens noted that he had expressed his displeasure over the donations “a number of times” noting that “we may have knowledge that the property owners do not have.”
Councillor Stephens was referring to a suggestion made by the purchaser of Carter Bay properties that he may have an interest in purchasing other pieces of land in the development. “It’s almost like insider trading,” suggested Councillor Stephens. “They also might be able to rezone it.”
“I don’t think we are in the habit of turning down donations,” responded Mayor Richard Stephens. “I don’t think it comes up much.”
Clerk Frawley confirmed that donations of property were not a common item on the municipality’s agenda.
In a recorded vote requested by Councillor Stephens, Councillors Scott and Taylor voted in favour of the motion to accept the donation, while Councillors Baran, Linda Farquhar, Patricia MacDonald and Stephens voted against the motion. Mayor Stephens declared the motion defeated.