The family behind a plan to build a farm and market, tourist cabins and a store, is one step closer to achieving its dream in Algonquin Highlands.
The township, on Aug. 13, passed a bylaw to allow rezoning of the property to highway commercial-exception from rural zone.
The Cleroux family wants to establish the businesses at 9734 Highway 118, between Carnarvon and West Guilford. During a public meeting, spokesperson Sylvie Cleroux said they would like a market to serve the general public but the convenience store would be for people using their cabins. She said the cabins would be stage two of the development, and not likely for another two years.
Planner Sean O’Callaghan said it appeared the land was big enough to accommodate the proposed development within the requirements of the zoning bylaw, including compliance with things such as minimum setbacks and parking requirements.
He said there also appeared to be sufficient frontage and area to maintain a natural buffer between neighbours to minimize any potential impacts.
The Ministry of Transportation said it had no objections in a July 16 letter to the township tabled at the meeting.
MTO spokesperson Laurel Muldoon said the Clreoux’ will need to ask for a formal pre-consultation for their site plan prior to the MTO issuing a commercial entrance permit and building and land use permit. It said it would only issue a building and land use permit for the general store at this time.
Three of Cleroux’ neighbours wrote to object to the development.
Dorothy Robb said she’d been living next door for 25 years, and “I enjoy the peace and quiet, and the very last thing I want is having up to 10 cabins with tourists running around right next door.”
She said she is also worried about traffic on an already busy Highway 118, saying “it’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Resident Doug Olliffe also objected due to traffic concerns.
Muriel Jeffrey said she’s also troubled about disruption of her peace and quiet and traffic but is concerned about hemp production on the farm. While legal, she’s worried it will “encourage an undesirable element that the long-term residents in this area do not want.”
Deputy mayor Liz Danielsen said “overall, I’m not in objection to the application.” She said she’s hearing traffic is an issue, but the MTO has no problem with traffic to a store, and had not yet commented on cabins.
Coun. Lisa Barry wanted to know what the site plan would contain, and O’Callaghan said drawings of parking, septic, well and natural buffering. He said council would have to approve the site plan.
Mayor Carol Moffatt said she understands the traffic concerns.
O’Callaghan said the MTO part of the process will likely entail a traffic impact study and discussion about a turning lane. However, he said the township won’t know until the proponents apply to the MTO.
Moffatt asked O’Callaghan, “Notwithstanding any of the concerns, of which there are a number, it meets the criteria of our planning documents?”
“Yes, that is correct. There are a number of policies in our official plan that do support such a development,” he said.