Subdivision residents say wood processing operation is incompatible with the neighbourhood

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Much of Muskoka may heat with wood, but not everyone wants a wood processing business beside them.

That was the message Huntsville’s Planning Committee heard at its December 13 meeting as it considered a zoning change to enable an existing wood operation on Muskoka Road 3 North to continue.

The owner, Marvin Green, has been operating the home-based business for the past 12 years but a handful of Settler’s Ridge residents say the business is incompatible with a residential neighbourhood and say the noise and emissions generated from the property are impacting them adversely.

“We all oppose this change to the bylaw on the basis that this area has been zoned residential, not industrial,” said one of the residents who said he attended the meeting on behalf of himself and other residents on his street. “This is not a home office, which is acceptable in a residential area as they do not create significant noise and disturbance to the neighbours… this is a manufacturing business, using heavy equipment, loud saws, heavy truck delivery, creating significant amount of noise which is not conducive to a residential area.”

Committee then heard from three other residents along that stretch of Muskoka Road 3 North, who attended the meeting to support the business owner.

“As far as the smoke coming from his property and the noise coming from his property, 90 per cent of it has been coming from the construction site that has been going on for the past five years,” said a woman at the meeting. “Since the subdivision has moved in there, our noise pollution has gone way up high,” she said. “And is this supposed to be Muskoka? It is supposed to be a place where you can enjoy having firewood and that’s what he’s doing is just creating firewood for all of us to be able to keep our houses warm.”

She referred Green as “just a fella trying to make a living,” and noted that he also drives a school bus and does the odd job around town. She said the property has always had firewood, long before the subdivision was built. “It’s part of Muskoka. It’s not a subdivision in Toronto.”

Green later told committee that the smoke coming from his property is from the wood furnace he uses to heat his home. His planning consultant, Graeme Huizinga of Wayne Simpson and Associates, also told committee that Green has built a berm around the operation to help mitigate the noise and that he plans to move the operation further back on the property, something that would be enforced through a zoning change, according to Town planning staff. Staff recommended the approval of the zoning change and noted the property would also fall under a site plan approval.

Green, who seemed dismayed at some of the accusations from neighbours, said he’d been criticized having a beer with a customer. He said he felt like some of the neighbours had ganged up on him and made him go through a lot of expense by getting the municipality involved. “Had they just come and seen me, we would’ve fixed it,” he said of the neighbours’ concerns.

Prompted by Councillor Bob Stone, Green said he cuts about 100 cords a year. Green said his customers will pick up the wood from the property and load their vehicles. He said it is a one-man operation; committee heard from staff that according to the rezoning proposed he could hire a limit of two other people who do not reside on the property.

“This is a tough one for me,” said Councillor Jonathan Wiebe. “From a municipal zoning perspective it’s my understanding that you should be able to, if you were to buy a home for example in this area, you should be able to clearly identify what is residential and what is not and I worry that this type of processing does blur that line into the industrial use and that’s why I’m having trouble supporting this.”

“This isn’t completely a homogeneous residential area. There are a variety of different uses in the area,” said Town planner Elizabeth Reimer. She said it is on a major road and there are quarry lands to the east.

In the end, committee approved the rezoning with the exception of Councillor Wiebe who voted against it.

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9 Comments

  1. I would like to thank all those that sent in comments in support of this zoning amendment . Even though I don’t know some of you , it is always good to know that we are being recognized by the people of our community and that people were willing to stand up against a wrong that not only affects one of our own but a lot of people that have counted on this service for many years . There have been a lot of people that are not only customers and business owners that have become well know acquaintances over the years that will be pleased to hear that we will be soon starting up again for the 2018 season.

    I would like to extend an invitation to any one to stop in to say hello, so that I may extend my heart felt gratitude for your support .

    Marvin Green

  2. Residents worried about noise ….At least they are out of town. We live second Street from main St. Listen to Your old KWH drop pipes ALL night some drops will bring u out of your bed and the town nor company really cares.

  3. Oh, come on! The new subdivision should acknowledge existing uses across the road, and accept them as “existing”, and live with it. Everyone deserves to make a living, and no amount of new neighbours should be allowed to infringe on that.

  4. Mr. Green has run this business for we years. The subdivision only in place for 5 years. People, you knew he was there and what he was doing before you bought so why do you think you have a right to make him stop because it bothers you?
    He and his business were there first.

  5. My family were the first ‘settlers’ in Settler’s Ridge. We moved in the summer before our daughter started grade 8 at Spruce Glen. She is now 27 years old, so the subdivision has been there for much longer than 5 years!! The house we lived in is at the very end of Homestead Lane backing on to Muskoka Rd. 3. As much as I appreciate the concerns of the residents, I have to be honest when I say I was never aware of the wood processing business and never bothered by any noise or smoke. The trucks going in and out across the street from us on Muskoka Road 3 were, I thought, from the quarry on the east side of Muskoka Road 3 and even then, the noise was not particularly bothersome or any worse than the traffic going up and down Muskoka Rd. 3. Given that we were the first people in the subdivision, our major complaint was the constant construction vehicle traffic on Homestead Lane, not the wood processing business across Muskoka Road 3!!

  6. If you look at the satellite image that acompanies this article you will notice a very interesting thing. There are no houses on the west side of muskoka rd 3 n and a log pile on the east side in my yard That image was taken in 2013. My firewood business started in 2005. Which can also be backed by a satellite image from google earth from that year.
    The only people that should have ANY concern are those backing onto the highway. A you can clearly see there were no houses there but the firewood business WAS and HAD BEEN for several years.
    In the original plan for the subdivision there was to be a buffer zone left along muskoka rd 3. That buffer would have stopped not only neighbourhood noises from drifting to the west over the subdivision but would have afforded the residents on the east from having to put up with nosy neighbours gocking into our yards and making ill informed acussations of what the Jones next door might be doing. That buffer has been shrunk almost to nonexistence by bylaw amendments that reduced the setback distances to allow even more houses to be stacked on top of each other. That amendment was apposed by ALL the residents along muskoka rd 3n. Then everyone is out there sneakily cutting a tree here and a branch there until there is no buffer at all. Then they have the gaul to complain about what was here long before they even thought about building here.
    The first homes on Homestead were built near the bottom of the hill which are well beyond any area that can even hear a saw running in my yard let alone be bothered by it.
    If you are going to give arguement don’t try to BS your way through it. It only makes you look like a fool.

    Marvin Green

    • In reading Linda Minnis ‘ letter again I believe I misinterpreted her point and wish to apologize for my comment directed at her . Although the points I made I stand behind they should not have been directed to her . My sincerest apologies .
      It has become an “us against them ” situation and I know that there are people living in Settler’s Ridge that do not agree with the arguments aimed at me and I’m sorry that Mrs Minnis got caught in the middle of it .

      Marvin Green

  7. Jamie Lockwood on

    Congratulations Mr Green. Nice to see a hard working individual be able to provide an income for his family .
    Years of paying taxes HERE in Huntsville. Years of shopping for goods HERE in Huntsville. Nice to see a local get a win .

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