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South Simcoe police out Thursday night

INNISFIL – A Barrie man stopped at a RIDE check Thursday night faces an impaired driving charge.

South Simcoe police stopped a car at 11:20 p.m. at Mapleview Drive and 20 Sideroad.

Police say its 34-year-old driver admitted he had been drinking. The man failed a roadside breath test, police said, and further testing at the police station led to the charge.

He has an April court date, his car was impounded for a week and his driver’s licence was suspended for 90 days.

Police also stopped a 19-year-old novice driver Thursday night who has his driver’s licence suspended for 24 hours. Tests showed he had a blood/alcohol concentration greater than zero.

By law, novice drivers must not operate a vehicle with any level of alcohol in their system.

Police also had RIDE spot checks in Bradford, where 54 sober drivers were stopped Thursday. 

Rejection of bylaw amendment in Oro-Medonte could put weddings in jeopardy

A messy split between an Oro-Medonte business and the township may leave some couples crying before they make it to the chapel.

In January, Oro-Medonte council denied the zoning bylaw amendment applied for by the owners of Lazy Dayz Bed, Breakfast and Rustic Barn that would allow it to continue to hold weddings and other special events on the property. This had gone against a recommendation from township staff that called for the application to be deferred again so a noise study it requested could be peer-reviewed. 

The previous deferral, in October 2015, also went against staff’s recommendation; at that time, staff called for the application to be denied outright.

The applicants have since appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes said was the best-case scenario to see the file closed in the most expedient manner.

"The most effective way to bring this to a more rapid conclusion … was to deny it," Hughes said. "It was very clear that regardless of the outcome, this was probably going to go to an OMB."

While a hearing date has not been set, it is not expected to take place until the summer, leaving Lazy Dayz without the approvals it needs to host future weddings.

"They don’t have any permissions for temporary events on the property," said Andria Leigh, the township’s director of development services.

A call to Lazy Dayz for comment was not returned.

For the 2014 and 2015 wedding seasons, a temporary bylaw was in place allowing Lazy Dayz owners Kate Marrs and Jamie Anderson to operate a wedding venue in a rustic barn on the property, capitalizing on the barn wedding craze. The land is currently zoned to allow the bed-and-breakfast on the property, while the amendment requested would permit indoor and outdoor special events, such as banquets, weddings, receptions or similar functions.

The special events held under the temporary bylaw are on land abutting the Horseshoe Valley Settlement Area, with more than 100 homes in the immediate vicinity. This temporary bylaw was enacted so staff and council could get a handle on the issues surrounding the application, particularly with the increase in traffic and noise.

Throughout the 2014 and 2015 seasons, "municipal bylaw-enforcement staff received a considerable amount of complaints from the public," a staff report to council indicated, with dozens of emails provided as evidence as a supplement to the report.

"It seems really inappropriate to have a commercial event so close to people’s backyards," Jane Ravenshaw in a June 2015 email that was representative of several of the complaints. "A typical neighbour does not have 100 people over for Saturday afternoon every week."

Township staff directed the applicants to submit respective studies on both traffic and noise, Leigh said. In its October 2015 recommendation to deny, staff identified a number of planning issues that needed to be addressed.

While the information required to justify the planning application was subsequently received by the applicants’ planner, the noise report was not submitted until late 2015, which didn’t give staff time to have the findings peer-reviewed. In January, staff requested more time to get the information it desired, but council was tired of waiting.

"This whole thing had dragged for a long time," Hughes said. "We expected a report to be back before the end of the calendar year. What happened was that report didn’t get back to us until January."

This places council and staff in an interesting situation, as council has essentially gone against a staff recommendation in denying a planning application. If the case proceeds to the OMB, council will have to retain its own planner to support its decision, while township planning staff may be subpoenaed by the applicants to give evidence to support the initial recommendation.

What makes the situation less black-and-white, Hughes said, was staff’s previous recommendation to deny the application outright. The potential convoluted mess could be irrelevant, as Hughes feels the case could be resolved before going to the OMB.

"One of the things this situation at Lazy Dayz cries out for is mediation," Hughes said. "If the parties sat down at the table, I believe we will likely see a resolution without the long, drawn-out, expensive process of an OMB (hearing)."

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