OMB verdict slated by end of April

Duane Hicks

Ontario Municipal Board chair Gary O’Connor will deliver a decision before the end of April regarding the appeal of a proposed zoning amendment at 1345 Emo Rd. here.
The appeal was the subject of a four-hour hearing yesterday afternoon at the Civic Centre, where O’Connor heard evidence both for and against the rezoning of the property at 1345 Emo Rd. from institutional to multi-residential (Residential Type Four, or R4) so local resident and business owner Dave Petsnick could convert the United Pentecostal Church into a three-unit apartment complex.
The rezoning also would permit the possible construction of an additional four-unit complex there at some point down the road.
Appellant Larry Buttner, backed up by several other west-end residents, spoke against the rezoning, citing numerous reasons including insufficient notice of the rezoning, increased traffic, decreased enjoyment of wildlife, and decreased property values.
But Fort Frances municipal planner Faye Flatt presented evidence that all relevant planning issues were considered and addressed prior to the zoning bylaw amendment coming before town council last October.
Petsnick also spoke in favour of the rezoning, as did Pastor Sean Ward and several members of the congregation of the United Pentecostal Church.
Whether or not the proposed rezoning goes through also affects the church, which has been anticipating the sale of its Emo Road property so it could move into the former St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at the corner of Church Street and Victoria Avenue.
Those plans are on hold as the church’s relocation remains contingent on the property sale.
Pastor Ward and several parishioners stated church membership is growing rapidly, and the new location not only would better accommodate the membership, but address the aforementioned parking issues and traffic congestion at its Emo Road location.
Council passed the bylaw to rezone property at 1345 Emo Rd. back on Oct. 27, after which Buttner filed an appeal with the OMB and was granted the April 1 hearing.