Devil's in details for church application

By Chad Ingram

Published April 21 2016

Minden Hills councillors seem unsure how to handle a rezoning application from the Allsaw Pentecostal Church.

Council discussed the application at an April 14 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

The administration of the church is seeking a rezoning of the property for the construction of an addition to the building as well as an “accessory use of up to nine trailers” according to the planning report.

It’s the latter issue that is causing some confusion for council and frustration for a neighbour.

The church is located on a 2.5-acre property along County Road 21. The property currently has rural zoning making the church itself a legal non-conforming use. Technically the property should have a different zoning and it’s the recommendation of Minden Hills planner Ian Clendening that the property be rezoned as community facilities exception four (CF-4).

It was the recent application for a building permit for an addition to the church that brought the various planning issues on the property to light.
For years a number of trailers have been located on the property. According to Clendening the trailers are used as a sort of “staging” area by church groups whose members stay on the property for short periods of time during the summer before moving on to other communities.

The lack of a sewer or water system for the trailers was an issue for a neighbour who told council during a public meeting last Thursday that she opposes the application.
“My main concern is the sewage and grey water” the woman told councillors. “There are trailer parks around the area for public use.”
She said she could hear noise from meetings and ceremonies from her house and also noted the recommendation from Clendening was that fees for the application be waived which she found unfair.

Adding to the complication of the situation is what Clendening called “poor advice” from a previous township planning consultant.
In late 2010 the church’s administration had sought a rezoning permit for the property but at the time was advised by a township planning consultant to apply for a temporary use permit instead. That temporary use permit – which specified that camping in the trailers was not to exceed four consecutive days at at time – was granted in 2011 but expired in 2014.

“So actually they have not abided by the temporary use bylaw” Councillor Jean Neville said. “They are not policing themselves or doing what they said they’d do.”

Clendening pointing again to what he believes was poor advice from the township said he believed the church administration was under the impression that everything was in order when it came to the use of the property.
“I think this is happening because of ignorance of the law” he told councillors adding church officials seemed to be under the impression that after the temporary use permit was granted in 2011 the township was going to take action eventually folding the use into a bylaw.
As for the fee waiver Clendening said the church had paid some $2500 for the temporary use permit process in 2011.

Regarding the sewage concerns Clendening’s report reads that short-term use of the trailers would not require sewer and water servicing or studies on the use.
“Through discussion with the applicant the objective of the application is to allow for the short-term accommodation of church groups as they prepare to embark upon a camping expedition elsewhere” the report reads. “In the event that the use of the trailers were limited to such an extent that they did not require full servicing such studies would not be required as the use would be limited to essentially short-term parking together with the overnight accommodation and not requiring to be connected to individual on-site water and sewage services.”

Councillors weren’t so sure.
“I’m finding this a very convoluted application and I have a lot of concerns with it” said Councillor Jeanne Anthon.

“I think this is a huge can of worms every which way” said Councillor Pam Sayne.
Deputy-reeve Cheryl Murdoch who chaired last week’s meeting said since it was the church’s hope to use the trailers again this summer council would need to make a decision in the near future.

Council asked for more information on the use of the trailers and is scheduled to make a decision on the matter at an April 28 meeting.