Photo: Hawthorn's Cottages and Campground
BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF –
In a recent decision of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), an appeal by Brian and Jayne LeGree of Hawthorn's Cottages and Campground to overturn the refusal of Grey Highlands Council to issue an operational permit for their 13-site campground was dismissed.
The decision was handed down October 1 following years of legal wrangling, public debate and friction between the LeGrees and many of their neighbours. The ruling came on the grounds that the operation of the campground is not a permitted use in the Inland Lakes and Shoreline (ILS) designation and thus, the Zoning By-Law Amendment (ZBA) does not conform with the Grey Highlands Official Plan (HOP).
The Lake Eugenia Property Owners Association (LEPOA) made an appearance at the hearing, represented by counsel to argue against the campground. That appearance was made possible by LEPOA crowd-sourced funds raised to fight the appeal. Planners Jamie Robinson, retained by the municipality, and Gordon Russell, retained by the LEPOA, both testified against the application. Ron Davidson was retained by the LeGrees and testified in support of it.
Because municipal zoning must conform with Grey County's Official Plan (COP), Davidson argued that the provision for a campground exists as described as "resource based recreational use" but was omitted from the HOP due to an oversight. Robinson argued that local municipalities may often be more restrictive in their documents than the County, so the municipal plan did not conflict with its upper-tier counterpart.
In the end, the LPAT agreed with Robinson and Russell and dismissed the appeal. The LeGree's are now forced to shut down operation of the campground but retain operation of their remaining business including seven cottages not affected by this ruling.In recent Grey Highlands all-candidates meetings, the need for more accommodations in the municipality seems to get unanimous support among those contesting for a seat on Council. Many of the candidates have also campaigned for a variety of housing types to be considered in a pending municipal by-law update and have also advocated for a new campground by-law to allow for such recreational uses. Only time will tell if Councillors follow through on this issue.
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