TRURO - The owner of a local golf driving range is seeking exemption from a town land-use bylaw despite failing to remove temporary shipping containers from the site's flood plain.
Chris Clarke, owner of Marshland Golf Driving Range at 323 Marshland Dr., approached Truro town council on Monday, asking to be exempt from the bylaw so he could permanently keep the containers on the land.
"I'm surprised and upset this is an issue," said Clarke at the meeting.
The town has been telling Clarke to remove the containers since the fall of 2011 in accordance with the land-use bylaw and flood plain requirements.
The containers are used for the business's operations and were relocated from the site's flood plain to another area on site that had been raised using fill material from ditching spoils that were also obtained on the property.
They are only allowed to be on site from May to October, said Jason Fox, director of the town's planning department.
Clarke has three unpaid summary offence tickets for not removing the containers by Oct. 31 of last year and this year. Although they were temporarily moved in the spring, it was past the deadline.
Clarke also asked the town to remove the fines. He said after receiving input from a soil and water engineer, he was successful in applying for a town permit for the containers in August 2010.
"I was not informed before that that I had to remove the containers by Oct. 31 of each year. I've done everything necessary to comply with the requirements of the town's land-use bylaw. I have consistently sought advice from town officers and not intentionally broken any bylaws," said Clarke.
The town's solicitor, John Rafferty, advised council that it couldn't accommodate Clarke on Monday unless the bylaw was amended.
Truro Mayor Bill Mills said he was having a "very, very difficult time" with the issue.
"Seeking to build up a piece of land you knew was on a flood plain ... a bylaw is a bylaw," said Mills.
Terry Baillie, a resident who lives near the golf range, voiced his opposition to Clarke's request at the meeting.
"I'm protesting this because of flooding concerns. If you change a bylaw what are you saying to residents of Marshland?" Baillie asked.
Fox said if council approved the request, it could take upwards of six to 12 months to then be approved by the province as well.
"This issue has dragged on," said Fox, adding caution must be taken by council.
"If we allow it for one then we have to do it for others and it could allow development on flood plains," said Fox.
Council referred the issue to the planning department for a recommendation that will be reported to council in the near future.