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Landowners nix boundary change - Feb 15th, 2012

posted Feb 20, 2012, 9:03 AM by Kelly Collard   [ updated Feb 20, 2012, 9:04 AM ]
  • By Sarah Bissonette
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  • Feb 15, 2012 - 2:01 PM
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  • Landowners nix boundary change

SEGUIN TWP. – Parry Sound and Seguin Township officials hoped proposed boundary changes would lead to economic growth and development.  
For resident Phil Weichel’s family businesses, the plan meant a significant tax increase. 
Last month, the municipalities jointly announced the plan to extend Parry Sound’s municipal boundary to include 132 hectares between Oastler Park Drive, Richmond Lake and Parry Sound Road. 
Officials proposed the agreement to further growth by providing more road, sewer and water access for development.
In return, the town would have paid Seguin Township $90,000, in five installments, for already incurred planning, legal and other expenses related to the affected properties.
Seguin Township needed the approval of at least eight of the 12 affected property owners to proceed with the deal, and no more than four could oppose it. The township sent ballots to property owners by registered mail. 
By Wednesday eight had voted with five opposing the plan. 
Weichel, president of Richmond Lake Park, a trailer park and campground, said he would have to find another job to pay the additional taxes if the deal had gone through.
Using the 2011 residential tax rate, including education costs, a homeowner in Seguin would have paid $597.35 on $100,000 of their home’s assessed value. In Parry Sound the same homeowner’s tax bill in 2011 was $1,288.50.
The town had offered property owners a three-year phase in period before full taxes were due, unless a property was developed. Officials also dangled a carrot, speculating that property values would rise, but Weichel has no plans to sell is 90-acre park. 
For Weichel’s family business, a move within Parry Sound boundaries would have meant an annual tax increase of $5,200. The business’ income, he said, simply covers its bills, while he and his wife both hold jobs outside the park. 
“I’m not opposed to joining Parry Sound,” he said. “But, basically, I’m opposed to costs going up incredibly and suspecting that they’ll go up more in the future when I’m only receiving speculation my property value will go up in the future,” he said.
With his vote, Weichel represents the approximately 20 tenants at the park. 
They have other concerns, he said. Besides the hike in taxes, there’s the potential future cost of putting in and hooking up to municipal water and sewer services.
He also pointed out that the town limits garbage pickup to two bags each for residents on specific pickup dates, while Seguin residents can take unlimited household waste to any of the transfer stations.
Weichel said he did like the idea of seeing Parry Sound Drive opened to provide residents easier access to the West Parry Sound Health Centre. 
Most of those who opposed the plans though, he said, are simply residents, while those with development plans within the affected area would support the change. 
George Stivrins is the co-owner of a proposed 80-acre development within the area. After seven years in the application stage, including an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board over zoning, and numerous studies, his project is almost ready to move from paper to the ground.
If the land had become part of Parry Sound, he said, it would have made servicing the development easier. 
The decision by other landowners to stay within Seguin means the development will need a less straightforward service agreement with both Seguin and Parry Sound.
Stivrins said he suspected surrounding property owners nixed the proposal over higher taxes.
“The challenge is for a residential person living there, what’s their perceived benefit to paying higher taxes? From a commercial standpoint, with all the other good things about being hooked up to the town, you can justify the higher tax rates,” he said. “Then you’re able to access sewer and water.” 
Although landowners have quashed the proposed deal, the town isn’t letting it die without another attempt. Municipal officials plan to reconsider the offer and try again.
Attractive tax rate
Parry Sound plans to offer a tax rate that would make it more attractive to those it’s trying to court.
“Obviously the tax rate, I guess, wasn’t palatable for some of the residents, so I think we’ll take another look at this, have some discussions with Seguin and we’ll see what happens,” said Parry Sound Mayor Jamie McGarvey. “A lot of people think it’s a good idea and, as I’ve maintained all along, it’s not about what’s there today, it’s about tomorrow.”
Support for border adjustment
McGarvey said numerous people and organizations have expressed support for the move.
“It is sort of a natural progression and I think it has a lot of potential,” he said. “And, there’s people who want to do things, so let’s keep moving along here and see what can be worked out.”
One more offer
Seguin Township council is open to further discussion, said Seguin Mayor David Conn, and would consider one more proposal from the town before closing the books on the border adjustment.
“The ball is in Parry Sound’s court,” said Conn. “If they want to review the offer that they provided to the residents and make any modifications it’s up to them. Our council will listen to the options, we’re not closing the door, but it’s up to Parry Sound to come back with another offer.”