SOUTH HURON — Council’s committee of adjustment Feb. 6 denied an application from a Shipka Line farm for a minor variance, despite staff’s recommendation for approval.
The application from J & C Muller Farms proposed a new livestock building on lands at 69803 Shipka Ln. as part of the farm’s hog operation. The application requested a reduction in the setback for a barn and manure storage facility. Under the municipality’s zoning bylaw, a setback of 872 metres is required for the barn and the manure storage. The applicants proposed a setback of 720 metres, a difference of 152 metres.
In recommending that the committee of adjustment approve the application, planner Sarah Smith went over the four tests an application must pass in order to be approved. The tests are: the application must meet the intent of the South Huron Official Plan; it must meet the intent of the Stephen Township zoning bylaw; it must be an appropriate and desirable development; and the variance must be “minor” in nature.
In all cases, Smith said the application passed the tests. In her report she noted, “Granting a minor variance for the build of a livestock barn and manure storage promotes and protects the long-term future of agriculture in South Huron. The proposed build would allow for an expansion of a previous operation in South Huron, further enhancing the livestock supply in the municipality.”
She later noted the proposed barn for the property was of “a similar size and form to the existing barns on the site and the applicant intends to operate the barn under the existing livestock operation which they have run since 1982.”
In their letter of justification for the request, the applicants noted the proposed barn would be “located as far away from the settlement area as possible while still being located in the cluster of other barns on the site which is required for operational purposes.”
Of the setback relief sought, Smith said it is about 17 per cent, “which is a relatively small spatial reduction.”
In his letter of justification for the application, applicant Justin Muller said the project would contribute to the community by providing jobs during the construction phase. He also said that J & C Muller Farms “value and recognize the complete essence of proper land/soil management.”
During discussion, it was learned that the applicants intend to increase their sow head from the current 1,500 to 2,600.
Council received four pieces of correspondence from ratepayers opposed to the application. Among the reasons given for the opposition was the smell from the operation, which one letter described as “most of the time, stomach turning.” Another letter noted the proposed increase in hogs would only make the smell worse.
While planner Smith recommended approval — with conditions — of the minor variance application, South Huron council’s committee of adjustment voted to deny it.
The decision can be appealed.