Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wanting Your Feedback on Site Alteration Bylaw

I am writing to give you an update regarding a draft Site Alteration Bylaw, hoping that you will provide some feedback by October 1.

You may recall that in the spring of 2011 a rural resident made a presentation to Council about construction fill being dumped on a neighbouring property and built into a high berm.  The material not only covered rich agricultural soil, the neighbour built the berm right up against the property line. The resident asked Council to consider developing a Site Alteration Bylaw to regulate this type of activity.

Many other municipalities have enacted this type of bylaw because it allows Towns to regulate activities with the potential for environmental degradation (dumping, erosion, sedimentation), drainage problems (blockages, impact on neighbouring properties) and public nuisances (tracking of mud on roads, dust).

The Town convened a public information session in August 2011 to give people an opportunity to ask questions and provide written comment.

Following that input, Council convened a public meeting to receive feedback in September, 2011. Farmers, nursery operators, and sod growers asked to be exempt for "normal farm practices"; landscapers asked for exemptions for their business activities.  Some neighbours of existing “berms” implored Council to act and to regulate that activity and the dumping of construction / excavation material on good farm land. Others asked Council to stop consideration of any "infringement of property rights."

Based on that public meeting, Town Staff developed a draft bylaw and presented it to Council in January 2012.  At that time, Council discussed whether the bylaw should deal exclusively with berms or include additional elements raised during the public meeting.  Council sent the bylaw back to staff to make further changes.

At our August 13 Committee meeting, Councillors received a new draft Site Alteration Bylaw and directed staff to make it available to residents for feedback.

You can pick-up a draft at Town Hall or review a paper copy at the Library; you can also download a copy from the Town’s website at www.pelham.ca.  We hope to receive your written feedback by October 1, so Staff can present it to Council in November.

Finally, you may be pleased to know that this draft Site Alteration bylaw would not allow Town staff the right to enter private property without appropriate notice – something like Staff knocking on the front door, identifying who they are, and seeking permission to undertake an inspection.

I look forward to your feedback regarding this draft bylaw.