by JULIE CADIEUX
ST. LAZARE — Council has adopted a revision to the municipality’s master zoning bylaw allowing restaurants along Ste. Angelique to serve alcohol without food in a defined section of their restaurants — but not without a lively discussion at last week’s monthly council meeting.
Council voted 4-3 to adopt the resto-bar bylaw, with councillors Jean-Claude Gauthier of district #6, Brigitte Asselin of district #3 and Michel Lambert of district #4 voting against it. Mayor Pierre Kary broke the tie by voting in favour.
On the surface of it, the debate was over where these resto-bars should be permitted. Kary and three councillors felt they should be permitted the length of Ste. Angelique within the downtown core. Lambert, Asselin and Gauthier argued they that they should not be allowed in sectors where common sense would suggest a problem, such as west of Montée St-Robert, home to several large daycares.
Originally presented at the July 5 council meeting, the revision was subjected to a public consultation July 26. Although only two citizens showed up to voice their objections, Kary read a notice of motion at last week’s meeting for a revision to be tabled at the October council meeting. The revision will limit resto-bars to zones C*-188, C*-192, C*-198, C*-200, C*-202, C*-204 et C*- 223 — Ste. Angélique between Rozon and Chevrier.
Kary said the issue surfaced several months ago, when a formal request was made by a business owner within the downtown core to add a bar to his restaurant.
“The request was treated in the usual way, the Town Planning Advisory Committee studied the request and [recommended the change],” the mayor added. “The Citizens Security Committee, which includes an SQ representative and our security director, reviewed the request and did not consider this to negatively impact security or safety.”
Currently only two bars — Chez Maurice and La Planète — are allowed to serve alcohol (by means of an acquired right) without customers also having to order food. According to Kary, the town has not received any negative complaints from residents. “I have received very positive feedback from dozens of residents in the 25-50 age group,” he adds.
Resident Sophie Leblanc agrees. “I never eat in town unless I get pizza — it would be nice to have more variety, like they do in Hudson or Vaudreuil,” said the mother of two.
But new resident Dan Ouimet is concerned. “Opening the door to bars will irrevocably change the landscape of St. Lazare…it’ll lose its sleepy little equestrian charm and become like every other town,” he says.
A couple living on Ste. Angélique is afraid of how the bylaw will affect their home’s value and quality of life. “Living with a daycare across the street is different than having a bar,” they said.
Raymond McLellan, the owner of La Planète, says he’s not worried about competition, but opposes the bylaw for obvious reasons. “I’m against it because if I had to sell it, my place won’t be worth the same price,” he added, explaining that he paid a premium when he purchased the business because it was one of just two locations in St. Lazare permitted to serve alcohol without food.
Kary says council’s hope is to attract commercial investments into the town’s centre on chemin Sainte-Angélique between Montée Saint-Robert and Rue Champêtre. “Commercial activity will attract further commercial activity and provide a greater diversity of services to residents,” he says. “We view a collective good in this small change to our zoning bylaw.”
The bylaw will also allow existing restaurants to modify their establishments but require that at least 65 percent of the seating have alcohol permitted only if served with a food order. The bar area is to represent the remaining 35 percent of the business with the space allocated being no larger than 150 square metres.
According to McLellan this isn’t realistic. “The city doesn’t realize that when a business gets their bar permit, they can’t control what percentage is bar …and they can stay open until 3:00 a.m.”
Only residents and business owners of St-Lazare who will be directly affected by the new bylaw are allowed to sign a petition against it. The petition is to be given to the city no later than Sept. 19. McLellan, who no longer lives in St. Lazare, is part of group getting organized to vote against the zoning change. “It’s not gonna get passed,” he vowed.
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Due to a significant increase in traffic to the area over the last few years, council will begin negotiations with the Ministère des Transports for the right to take over the security of Ste. Angélique from Bédard all the way to Cité des Jeunes.
Councillor Brigitte Asselin’s district, which begins right after Cherrier and goes past Cité des Jeunes, says residents in her district have been especially concerned about the issue of traffic and safety in this area. The town wants to implement safety measures for those vehicles wanting to exit a residential street and merge onto Ste. Angélique. Also noted was the lack of pedestrian crossings making it unsafe for those on foot or bike wishing to cross the boulevard.
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La Base de Plein Air des Cèdres has made a request to the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC asking permission to turn it into a regional recreational centre. At last week’s council meeting council agreed that it was the wrong time for the city to get involved with it since they are currently in discussions with the city of Les Cèdres as to how the centre should be operated. Some 200 hectares of La Pinière, which represents 75 percent of the conservation area’s total acreage, is located in St. Lazare. For this reason the town feels it deserves a say as to how La Base de Plein Air is run. La Pinière is used for its equestrian, walking and cross country ski trails.
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Council agreed to spend $25,462.23 on 60,000 paper bags for this year’s MRC leaf pickup days. The bags, which replace the orange plastic sacks, will be given away at the Community Centre on Saturday, Sept. 24 between 9 and noon and again on Wednesday, Oct. 19 between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The 110-litre bags are also for sale at local hardware stores. The MRC, which handles leaf pickups, will not pick up orange plastic sacks.
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The town will be increasing the hours available for open skating for its 2011-2012 season at the Sportsplex. Starting September 20th and ending April 13, 2012, the public will have 42 hours of open skating time a week.
The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette/September 14 2011/Julie Cadieux