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.
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. Committee data sheet, plus the most recent agenda and minutes can be found on our Committee webpage.
What is a Consent (Land Severance)?
A Consent is the authorized separation of a piece of land to form two new adjoining properties. This is required if you want to sell, mortgage or lease (for more than 21 years) a newly created parcel of land. If the two parts are already naturally split, by a road or railway for example, then consent is not needed.
The Official Plan has specific policies and requirements for land severance. In addition to the division of land, rights-of-way, easements and any change to your existing property boundaries also require land severance approval.
If several severances are intended in the same area, a plan of subdivision may be more appropriate. You should consult this matter with the City's Infrastructure and Development Services - Planning Division for direction on whether a consent is the best approach, or if a plan of subdivision is necessary for the proper and orderly development of your community.
Why Do I Need Approval To Sever My Land?
The indiscriminate division of land, without anyone's approval, could have a long term, negative impact on a community. It could, for example, result in overextension of municipal services, such as piped water and sewers, snow plowing, school busing and garbage collection. Or it might result in damage to natural environment, due to lots that are too small to accommodate adequate sewage disposal systems.
Official approval is required to ensure that:
- land severances are considered within an established community planning framework;
- new lots and new land uses do not conflict with the overall future planning goals and policies of the City;
- consideration is given to the effects of the division of land on the site, on the neighbours and on the community as a whole.
Once a severance has been approved, the new land parcels may be sold or resold without further approval. The only exception is if the severance approval authority has specified otherwise at the time of approval.
Where do I go for a Consent?
Severance approval is the responsibility of and the applications are made directly to the City of Welland Committee of Adjustment. Prior to any application, you should consult with the City's Infrastructure and Development Services - Planning Division Staff. They will provide you with information on special land severance requirements set out in the Official Plan and Zoning By-law.
What is the Process for a Consent Application?
Once you have applied, the Committee of Adjustment may give advance notice and information to anyone affected by your consent proposal. Conferring with certain agencies is a requirement and a copy of your application will be sent to certain government agencies including the City's Infrastructure and Development Services - Planning Division to give them an opportunity to review and make their comments before a decision is made. It is also the policy of the Committee of Adjustment to conduct a public hearing on each application.
When the Committee of Adjustment has decided on your application, it is required to send a notice of decision granting or refusing the consent to the applicant and to anyone else who has requested, in writing, to be notified.
How is a Consent Application Evaluated?
In considering each application for land severance, the Committee of Adjustment evaluates the merits of each proposal against such criteria as:
- the effects of the proposal on matters of provincial interest, general conformity with the official plan and compatibility with adjacent uses of land;
- compliance with zoning by-laws;
- suitability of the land for the proposed purpose, including the size and shape of the lot(s) being created;
- adequacy of vehicular access, water supply, sewage disposal;
- the need to ensure protection from potential flooding.
What About Conditions of Consent Approval?
A consent approval may have certain conditions attached to it. These might include requirements for road widenings, tree pre-payment, or a rezoning (or minor variance) to allow a new land use. Consent conditions must be fulfilled within one year.
When all the conditions have been met by the applicant, a certificate is issued by the Committee of Adjustment, and the consent goes into effect.
If the transaction originally applied for (sale of property, transfer of property rights, etc.) is not carried out within two years of the date of the certificate, the consent is considered lapsed. An earlier lapsing can be specified by the approval authority at the time of the consent decision.
How is the Public Involved?
All consent proposals are reviewed against local planning policies and regulations. The Committee of Adjustment provides an opportunity for those concerned to express their views by holding a public meeting prior to making a decision. A notice is placed in Niagara This Week (Civic Corner) and every property owner within 60 metres is mailed a Notice of Public Hearing.
If a proposed severance comes to your attention and you have a serious concern about its effects on you or your property, you should:
- contact the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee of Adjustment to find out as much as possible about the application;
- make your views known by writing to the Committee of Adjustment prior to the public meeting and/or attending the public meeting;
- consult with the City's Infrastructure and Development Services - Planning Division prior to the public meeting;
- request, in writing, notice of the Committee of Adjustment's decision on the consent application. This request will be necessary in the event that you may want to appeal the decision later on.
What Rights of Appeal do I Have?
As a last resort, a decision on a consent (or any of the conditions) can be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (L.P.A.T) only if the objector is:
- the applicant; or
- a person who asked, in writing, to receive notice of the decision.
Your appeal must be filed within 20 days of the date of mailing of decision with the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee of Adjustment. Written reasons supporting your objection and payment of the L.P.A.T fee for an appeal must be included.
An appeal to the L.P.A.T is a serious matter requiring considerable time, effort and, in some cases, expense on the part of everyone involved.
Other Helpful Information:Please see the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Citizens' Guide 5. (www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page1756.aspx)
Minor Variance or Permission
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.
What is a Minor Variance?
The question of what is a minor variance is not a question that has been definitively answered. However, the former 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 Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, 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.
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 Niagara This Week. 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 Infrastructure and Development 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.
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.
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.
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 Local Planning Appeal Tribunal by filing with the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee a written Notice of Appeal. Written reasons supporting your objections and the payment of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal 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 Local Planning Appeal Tribunal is a serious matter requiring considerable time, effort, and in some cases, expense on the part of everyone involved.
To find out more, contact:The City of Welland
Infrastructure and Development Services
60 East Main Street
Welland, Ontario L3B 3X4
Telephone: (905) 735-1700 ext. 2251 or 2257
Fax: (905) 735-8772