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Township won't allow minor variance in ongoing goat saga

Stanley has been Jo-Anne Miller's pet since the day she rescued him last year as a six-week-old kid from a dairy farm near Craighurst

The Stanley the goat saga has taken another turn in Tiny Township.

And this time it could prove especially costly.

While proponents helping pet owner Jo-Anne Miller after a complaint to the township about Stanley had been hoping to apply for a minor variance as a way to appease the township and comply with a zoning bylaw, they’ve since been told that they cannot go that route and will instead have to apply for a zoning bylaw amendment.

The difference in cost between the two avenues is roughly $4,000. The minor variance would have run under $1,000, but the application fee for a zoning amendment is $4,000, plus an additional $1,000 on top of that amount and also requires a planning justification report.

“It will be a massive challenge to find the funds for rezoning compared to the minor variance,” said Michela Mucciaccio, who is one of Miller’s friends helping her through the process.

“A new survey would also need to be obtained to complete this rezoning which also costs quite a lot of money. Add all of these amounts up and we are looking at a good $7,000 to rezone the property with no guarantee of a successful outcome.”

According to Mucciaccio, a township lawyer said that the matter must proceed as a zoning-bylaw amendment and not a minor variance since adding a new use to the property that is otherwise not permitted isn’t considered a “minor” change.

Applying for the zoning-bylaw amendment seems like the only way Stanley will be able to stay in the Cawaja Beach neighbourhood since Miller’s property is zoned shoreline residential while a municipal law enforcement officer noted during a visit last month that Miller can’t keep the goat since having Stanley falls under the definition of a ‘hobby farm'.

Shawn Persaud, the township’s planning and development director, did not return a request for comment by publication.

But the friends group realizes the important role Stanley serves in helping Miller battle depression and plans to continue the fight. To that end, they’ve established a GoFundMe to raise the necessary dollars.

“Our biggest issue aside from the township insisting that only going the route of rezoning is an option as well as the costs and time-frame of the rezoning is how this has unjustly impacted Jo-Anne,” Mucciaccio said.

“This matter poses no harm or threat to the well-being of the community at large whatsoever. The only one who’s being harmed here is Jo-Anne, as this has had devastating impacts on her mental and emotional well-being which in turn has also resulted in physical stress. “

During a recent visit to her modest quarter-acre property, Miller said Stanley has been her pet since the day she rescued him last year as a six-week-old kid from a dairy farm near Craighurst since male goats would normally be slaughtered.

“He’s a good pet and people love him. I take him on walks. He sleeps inside my home and has his own room. This has just been a nightmare."

Ever since that fateful day, the pair have been inseparable and have become a popular sight for both children and adults living in the Cawaja Beach area. Stanley’s friends include a wide array of dogs with whom he sometimes lies as they peacefully take in some sunshine while watching the world go by.

“Never ever did I think there would be a problem,” Miller said. “There’s been one complaint and it’s not like those from the township had never seen him before.”

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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