Pre-Hearing Scheduled for Official Plan Appeals

By Karen Longwell
Published by on March 24, 2010

MUSKOKA LAKES — A pre-hearing has been scheduled with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to address four appeals to Muskoka Lakes Township’s official plan.

The pre-hearing date is set for April 29 at 10:30 a.m. at the township council chambers in Port Carling. The meeting is open to the public, according to Karen Kotzen, communications consultant with Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario.

Three appeals to the official plan are related to the long-contested Port Carling boundary expansion. The approximately 80-acre boundary expansion received final approval from District of Muskoka council on Oct. 28, 2009 after nearly two years of discussion and debate at the township level.

Developers of Hanna’s Landing, a 250-unit residential development at the former Glenwood Trailer Park on Mirror Lake, first initiated the boundary expansion in January 2007. The expansion would allow the residential development to proceed on district water and sewer services.

Hanna’s Landing requested a 104.5-acre expansion, which would include their entire property. District planners recommended an 80-acre expansion.

A lawyer for Hanna’s Landing, Leo Longo, filed an appeal stating the district’s decision to split the Hanna’s Landing property is inappropriate.

Beth Turner, a lawyer representing the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) and Stephen D’Agostino, a lawyer representing the Friends of Port Carling filed appeals to the official plan opposing the boundary expansion. The MLA and Friends of Port Carling have protested the boundary expansion, stating it is premature for the area.

A fourth appeal, filed by Alice Murphy, relates to the proposed hydroelectric development at Bala Falls. In her appeal Murphy suggests the land on the west side of Burgess Island, between the North and South Falls in Bala, is incorrectly zoned as core commercial. She suggests the land should be designated as open space because of its current recreational use.

A pre-hearing is the meeting of parties and participants before a full hearing. Pre-hearings are especially useful if a matter is expected to be long or complicated, according to the OMB website.

The pre-hearing will identify the parties and participants, deal with preliminary issues and motions, and discuss procedures for the hearing.

The OMB will issue an order outlining the procedure and issues for the hearing. If appropriate, it can issue a decision or order on motions or agreements reached during the pre-hearing.

The OMB is an independent adjudicative tribunal established under statute by the Province of Ontario. The board hears appeals and applications on a wide range of municipal and land-related matters including official plans, zoning bylaws, subdivision plans, consents and minor variances, land compensation, development charges, ward boundaries and aggregate resources.

The OMB operates under many different pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act.