Attempts to get an existing business in a residential neighbourhood on Chaffey Township Road recognized so that it could continue operating did not go well for the applicant.
Shawn Bouillon was before Huntsville’s planning committee on January 18 asking for a zoning bylaw exemption to recognize a taxi dispatch service on his property which has an area of 6,718 square metres and 35 metres of frontage on Chaffey Township Road, committee heard.
Planning staff were recommending that the application be denied.
“The use was established unlawfully in 2019 and charges were subsequently laid under the Planning Act,” Huntsville’s manager of planning, Richard Clark, told committee. “To address the issue the applicant has submitted this zoning bylaw amendment application and wishes to continue using the single detached dwelling on the property as a residential dwelling unit alongside the taxi dispatch service business.”
Clark noted that small-scale convenience commercial uses that serve the immediate area are allowed in the urban residential area, as per the designation of the lands in Huntsville’s Official Plan, provided that they don’t result in a negative impact on the residential character as well as the safety of the neighbourhood.
He also noted that the business must be located on a through street with the capacity to handle higher traffic and maintain adequate buffers from surrounding residential properties.
“Although the proposed taxi dispatch operation is intended to service residential landowners, this use is not permitted in the urban residential designation itself. In general, transportation service uses involving frequent trip generation to and from a property by numerous motor vehicles are considered an intensive use that would be more appropriately located in employment lands where impacts on surrounding residential neighbourhoods would be avoided,” added Clark. “In this instance, the taxi dispatch service business would not appear compatible in proximity to surrounding residential neighbourhoods as it would increase traffic on a private road that is not suitable for such a use and could compromise health and safety for surrounding residential landowners along Chaffey Township Road.”
Clark added that there are no buffers surrounding the operation which would be difficult to establish due to the constraints associated with the steep slopes on the north side of the property.
Bouillon also spoke to committee and noted that he’s a member of the First Nations Anishinaabe people. “To address the concerns of the traffic in the area, I think it needs to be brought up, and pointed out, that we’re in a global pandemic and the current traffic is not normal. The six vehicles we have in a 24-hour period that come and go are for washroom uses. Most of the public washrooms in town have been closed during the pandemic,” he said, adding that in terms of the road maintenance, he brings in gravel to fill the potholes and also plows the road.
Bouillon also attributed issues related to traffic volumes to what he referred to as an M1 (light industrial) property that abuts his. He said there are two businesses operating out of that property including a construction company that he said sends transports up and down the road.
He also said it is his intention to seek permission to put up a fence “to completely screen the view of my entire yard from the general public.”
Bouillon also argued that they’ve operated a taxi service in the town for almost 15 years “and typically other dispatch service companies are also located in a rural residential area with exceptions on them.”
Three area property owners also spoke at the virtual meeting. Their concerns included the safety of pedestrians and dog walkers on the road due to large traffic volumes, noise, and headlights associated with the taxis circulating in the area late at night and shining their headlights into people’s windows.
Another resident said he also clears and maintains the road, and the owner of a construction company in the area asked whether committee would be setting a precedent if they approved the taxi operation.
“He’s been operating as a taxi service in a residential area illegally for nearly three years and I think providing the applicant with the ability to move forward would be sending [the]wrong message to other local businesses that follow the rules of how we operate in the lands as it relates to any bylaws or rules that the Town sets out,” said Randy Blain.
In the end, committee voted in favour of planning staff’s recommendation to deny the application.
You can find the full planning report here.
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