Clean property law on the way for South Glengarry

South Glengarry council votes on a motion during a meeting on Monday, April 6, 2020. Pictured (from top, left to right) are Coun. Sam McDonell, Mayor Frank Prevost, Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden, Coun. Stephanie Jaworski and Coun. Martin Lang. A property maintenance law is two-thirds of the way to being on the books. (South Glengarry/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

LANCASTER – A new bylaw to control how people keep their properties clean in South Glengarry is two-thirds of the way to being on the books.

Council approved second reading of the Clean Yards Bylaw at its Monday meeting.

The law sets out various rules for yards, trash, grass cutting, compost and drainage.

Here are some highlights of the bylaw:

  • Grass in rural and urban settlement areas must be kept to 20 centimeters (8 inches) or shorter, except for trees, shrubs, vegetables, plants as a buffer to a stream or river, and ornamental plants
  • Removal of all noxious weeds
  • Naturalized areas would have a 1.5 meter (5 feet) buffer strip cut to no higher than 20 centimeters (8 inches)
  • Compost piles are no larger than one square meter (10 square feet) or 1.8 meters (6 feet) high. Also has to be maintained to not attract vermin or create nuisance odours
  • Property owners have to ensure water from a swimming pool, hot tub, artificial pond, rain barrel or container doesn’t drain on a neighbouring property

Many on council felt the law needs to distinguish between urban settlement areas and rural areas, when it comes to the requirement to cut a 1.5 meter (5 feet) buffer strip around your property to a maximum grass height of 20 centimeters (8 inches).

Staff have pulled the buffer strip rule for land zoned agriculture. But Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden says the law is still too vague and could fuel disputes by neighbours.

“There has to be a limitation on the number of acres. There’s a lot of land that’s just…land. It’s not farmed and it’s not really utilized. If somebody takes a hate, sees this new bylaw, here we are trying to enforce something that does not make sense,” Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden.

Municipal Law Enforcement Manager Veronique Brunet says the complainant has to show “that it’s affecting or disrupting their life in some way, shape for form.”

Mayor Frank Prevost added that he would like to see that part of the law pertain only to the hamlets and subdivisions.

While Brunet said the law is about education first before enforcement, set fines are $250 for most offences and $350 for obstructing a bylaw officer.

Coun. Sam McDonell said he also has issues with the proposed law that had a 10 day limit on getting rid of waste for renovation jobs where containers are dropped on site to take away construction waste. “Somebody doing a renovation could be subject to this bylaw. They’re trying to do the right thing. They’re trying to clean up the house maybe in a settlement area that isn’t as nice but we’re limiting them as to how they’re going to get rid of their garbage.”

Brunet answered that the bylaw is “subjective to the officer.” She conceded that the proposed law actually didn’t say “residential waste” and that she could put in a construction exception.

Some on council also asked to amend the days people can collect garbage on their property from 10 days to 14 days, given that some people may be caught if they miss their pickup date.

When asked by Deputy Mayor Warden whether the rule even had to be in there, Brunet said the township received 11 complaints last summer about accumulating garbage that was attracting rodents and causing a stench.

The bylaw will come back for third and final reading at the next council meeting.

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