MORRISBURG – A trailer park in Mariatown, west of here, would “more likely than not” be victorious in a legal showdown with South Dundas over some of its trailer lots.
That finding in a requested legal opinion from a Cornwall law firm.
The issue is over six lots at the east end of the seasonal campground, which are next to Lakeshore Drive (County Road 4).
The campground has been around since 1958 and the municipality “was asked to investigate” if the park was using lands leased from Ontario Power Generation as a legal non-conforming use.
According to the township, neighbours to the north of Lakeshore Drive complained that the trailers on those lots blocked their view of the St. Lawrence River.
The township had taken the position since 2007 that the RV park was breaking the zoning bylaw and wanted the trailer lots cleared.
But in a report to South Dundas councillors tonight (Oct. 18), lawyer Warren Leroy of Ault & Ault Law Office writes that the owners enjoy a legal non-conforming use over the land in question and would probably be successful in court.
That’s because the land was being used consistently prior to and after the zoning change in 1980.
Under legal non-conforming use, a municipality cannot deprive a landowner of rights they previously enjoyed.
“So long as the land owner demonstrates an intention to continue the legal non-conforming use and actually does use the land as far as possible in circumstances, the legal non-conforming use will survive,” Leroy writes.
“In our opinion, the Township should not compel the Locke’s to vacate the Subject Lands since they probably enjoy a legal non-conforming use,” he added.
Councillors will receive the report under the consent agenda, items which are typically not discussed, unless a councillor asks for the report to be pulled for discussion.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the South Dundas Municipal Center.
Update: South Dundas council received the recommendation at Tuesday night’s council meeting with no discussion or comments from councillors or the mayor.