MUSKOKA LAKES - A Port Carling property owner is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel one year after applying for a boathouse in Port Carling.
Marg Walton and Gary Gregoris talk to Muskoka Lakes council during a one-hour debate on a zoning issue on Monday, Jan. 14. At the meeting, a year after the issue first came up, council finally agreed on how to zone the property. Gregoris now waits for final approval from council on his original application for a boathouse.
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
Greg Gregoris, vice-president for Mattamy Homes, applied for a minor variance from Muskoka Lakes council so he could build a boathouse on the Ferndale Fun property in Port Carling last year, but was turned down because council said he first needed to rezone the property to fit into the township’s official plan policy.
Following three letters on Monday, Jan. 14, a delegation by a neighbour, a one-hour discussion by council, and hours of discussion over the past year, the zoning was changed to be included as part of the urban core of Port Carling.
The mayor, who in December lost her cool during a 45-minute meeting on the issue accusing council members of not reading the agenda and going into the situation “willy-nilly,” shook Gregoris hand as he left, only to see him again the following day at a planning meeting for the site plan agreement of the boathouse.
The one-hour discussion on Monday moved around Brian McElwain’s concern that a massive boathouse could be built on the property beside him in the future.
His concern is that a boathouse or dock can have 25 per cent width of the waterfront, which means they could build a 40,000 square-foot boathouse, McElwain said.
The boathouse already on the property along with the proposed boathouse cover 267 feet, 14.2 per cent of the waterfront, leaving 218 feet that could be developed.
Council wrangled with ideas of limiting the size of the boathouses that could be built, restricting dock size, reducing the amount of property that could be developed from 25 per cent to 20 per cent, and restricting the distance between boathouses.
“We can put whatever bylaw we want in place, whatever the measurements are, and respectfully, you can come back and ask for another variance again, which is what you’re looking for here and now,” said Coun, Phil Harding.
David Pink, interim senior director of planning for the township, said the Official Plan guidelines allow docks to cover 25 per cent of the waterfront, and both properties on the east and west have the same restrictions.
“So to take this property and single it out because it’s large, I think if you limit the size of each individual boathouse, it won’t look any different than if you go east or west,” he said.
Throughout the meeting, Gregoris offered to work with the neighbours and complied with their requests, which was applauded by Coun. Don Furniss.
“Personally I think we’re micromanaging this,” Furniss said.
After resolving the waterfront issue, council debated where staff housing could be located.
Following a confusing back-and-forth between council members and staff, Gregoris finally asked, “Can I please just have a clear explanation of what’s being asked of us?”
Council implemented several restrictions in the form of minor amendments before unanimously passing the bylaw change, though Furniss said he was hesitant.
The zoning change now has a 20-day appeal period and the site plan application for the boathouse will come before council on Feb. 4. If there are no appeals and council passes the site plan, Gregoris will be able to apply for a permit for his boathouse in mid-February.