Short term rental focus of objections to redevelopment of former St. Paul’s Church in Combermere

At a Public Meeting held May 4, Madawaska Valley Township staff and Council responded to multiple communications from residents regarding the proposed development of 1048a-b Mill Street in Combermere by new owners Craig and Jude Kelley. A significant number of objections to redevelopment of the former St. Paul’s Church related to the issue of short-term rental. The Kelleys had included that as a potential use of the residences. In addition to that, objections included the number of proposed residential units, noise, parking, septic system, lack of adequate fencing and other issues. The former rectory building, now Mission House Museum & Gallery, is owned by Madawaska Valley Township but the land on which it rests beside the church and hall buildings belongs to the Kelleys.

This application for a zoning bylaw amendment had begun on April 20 but was adjourned pending a revised application from the Kelleys and septic location identified. Councillor Mark Willmer was absent but Councillor Ernie Peplinski read out his list of questions which included:

  • The entire street seems to be upset
  • Is it too much development for the size of the property and does the proposal fit into the ambiance of the rest of Mill Street
  • Are short term rentals an appropriate use
  • The proposal appears to have been developed without consultation with neighbouring property owners

Willmer’s email, now attached to the original agenda, also pointed out some abnormalities in this application – the lack of a recommendation from County of Renfrew Planning Dept. and new material added to the agenda over the weekend.

A number of the community’s concerns were described by Mill St. resident David Henstock who also provided a link to a YouTube video of his presentation. Henstock’s video included suggestions about removing all encroachments and fixing the access problems while offering some off-street parking at the front. He also complained about the lack of cooperation from the Kelleys to his suggestion of holding a meeting with concerned residents.

New information was presented at the May 4 Public Meeting and all items of correspondence were attached to the amended Agenda and/or read aloud to ensure all members of Council and the public watching via YouTube were made aware. A significant change in the revised draft Bylaw from County of Renfrew was that the Kelleys had since reduced the number of proposed residences on the site from three to two with a revised Site Plan reflecting this. MV staff, the applicants and neighbours worked to locate the septic system. Additional information since the Zoning Bylaw Amendment was first considered was Henstock’s research of the Ontario Heritage Trust that revealed that St. Paul’s Anglican Rectory was designated a heritage building by the Township of Radcliffe Bylaw 97-21 on November 17 1997. Lindsey Bennett of Renfrew County Planning Dept. noted that the land was being rezoned, not the building, so the heritage designation did not affect this application.

Members of Council discussed the amended application, Mayor Kim Love saying that already many MV properties are rented out. Licensing and regulations could control those concerns, but this municipality does not regulate that use. “I’m not sure how we can address these concerns. The neighbours do need to recognize that any neighbour who does find themselves next to a short term rental accommodation may have similar concerns. But that’s allowed in Madawaska Valley.” Willmer agreed that short term rentals is one of the bigger concerns but he said he did not believe in creating bylaws if the municipality did not have a problem. He was in favour of revisiting the subject to address it by bylaw if necessary in future. Love summed up the short term rental issue: “I would note that any issues that have been raised in terms of it being a residential property have been addressed and it conforms to what any other residential property would need to conform to in the Township of Madawaska Valley.”

Peplinski acknowledged that much had been accomplished since the April 20 meeting and complimented staff for their help but maintained there were lots of complaints that he would like to hear addressed by members of Council, to which Love replied that she could not force them to speak.

The bylaw to amend the property zoning from Community Facility to Residential was read three times and passed via a recorded vote, with Peplinski the only member of Council to vote against it.

Editor’s Note: This article was amended on May 14 to correct the address of the subject property from 1058 to 1048a-b Mill Street. We apologize for any confusion this may have created.

photo google.maps


  1. Chad Beckwith Smith

    Here is a solution for all. Those that oppose it, make a reasonable offer to purchase it or to rent it. Wow, that is putting your money where your mouth is.

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