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Committee of Adjustment - Minor Variance or Permission

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October 2011

What is the Committee of Adjustment?

The City of Welland Committee of Adjustment consists of three members, appointed by City Council in accordance with the Planning Act. The Committee meets to consider applications for minor variances from Zoning By-laws and certain other By-laws including the Fence, Sign and Swimming Pool Fence By-laws, as well as changes to legal non-conforming uses. It also has the responsibility to deal with consent applications (see Consents pamphlet).

Committee members serve a term concurrent with that of the Council which appointed them. The Committee elects a Chair who presides at Hearings. Additionally, the Committee appoints a Secretary-Treasurer, who is responsible for application processing and record keeping.

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What is the Mandate of the Committee of Adjustment?
Variances

The Planning Act provides that a Committee of Adjustment may consider requests:

  • to grant relief from the provisions of any Zoning By-law, and Interim Control By-law, as well as certain other By-laws if authorized by Council;
  • to enlarge or extend an existing legal non-conforming building or structure; and
  • to change a legal non-conforming use to one which is either similar to or more compatible with the uses permitted by the Zoning By-law.

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What is a Minor Variance?

The question of what is a minor variance is not a question that has been definitively answered. However, the Ontario Municipal Board has said, "there is no inflexible rule as to what is or is not minor. It is a relative term and must be interpreted with respect to the particular circumstances involved." In addition, the Divisional Court has stated "no hard and fast criteria can be laid down, the question whether a variance is minor must, in each case, be determined in light of the particular facts and circumstances of the case. It is for the Committee and, in the event of an appeal the Ontario Municipal Board, to determine the extent to which a By-law provision may be relaxed and a variance still classed as 'minor'." It is, therefore, up to the Committee of Adjustment, when considering applications for minor variance to take all of the particular circumstances of the application into account and to determine whether or not the variance requested is, in the opinion of the Committee, minor.

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How is the Public Involved?

The Committee is required by the Planning Act and Ontario Regulations to provide notice of applications to the public. Notice is given in the Welland Tribune. As well, in addition to the requirements, notice is generally mailed to owners of land within 60 metres (200 feet) of the subject land.

If a proposed minor variance comes to your attention and you have concerns about the effect of the minor variance, you should:

  • contact the Integrated Services - Planning Division to find out as much as possible about the application;
  • make your views known by writing to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee of Adjustment;
  • attend the public hearing at which the minor variance will be considered to express your views; and
  • request, in writing, a copy of the Committee's Decision on the application.

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How Does the Committee Reach Decisions?

The Committee, when reviewing a minor variance application, must consider the following matters known as the four (4) tests:

  • is the variance minor?
  • is the variance desirable for the appropriate development of the lands in question?
  • is the general intent and purpose of the Zoning By-law maintained?
  • is the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan maintained?

In order for Decisions of the Committee of Adjustment to be valid, all these matters must be considered and included in the Committee Decision.

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When Can a Decision of the Committee of Adjustment be Expected on an Application?

Generally, if the Committee has all information necessary to fully evaluate the request at the hearing, the application is heard. A Decision will be rendered at the hearing. A Decision is not final until twenty (20) days has lapsed and provided that no appeal has been filed with the Secretary-Treasurer.

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What Rights of Appeal Do I Have?

If you are not satisfied with the Decision of the Committee of Adjustment with respect to an application, you may appeal the Decision of the Committee of Adjustment to the Ontario Municipal Board by filing with the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee a written Notice of Appeal. Written reasons supporting your objections and the payment of the Ontario Municipal Board fee for an appeal must also be included.

NOTE: Any Appeal must be filed within twenty (20) days of the Decision.

An appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board is a serious matter requiring considerable time, effort, and in some cases, expense on the part of everyone involved.

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        PLANNING DIVISION
        CONTACT NUMBERS

    905-735-1700
                  Ext. 2251 or 2257

or email: devserv@welland.ca