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FAQ

Zoning By-law Amendment

 

 

A) A zoning by-law is a document used by the City of Welland to regulate the use of land. It states exactly what land uses are currently permitted in the City and provides detailed information such as:
• where buildings or structures may be located;
• types of uses and permitted;
• standards for lot size, parking requirements, building height, side yard dimensions and setback from the street.
A) While official plans set out the general, long-range policy framework for future land use, zoning by-laws put those plans into effect and provide for their day-to-day administration.

Unlike the official plan, the zoning by-law contains very specific and legally enforceable regulations. Any new development or construction that fails to comply with a municipality's zoning by-law is not permitted and will be denied a building permit.

The City has zoning by-laws that divide the entire municipality into land use zones. A detailed map of these zones forms an important part of the written by-law. Within each zone, the by-law specifies the permitted uses (eg: commercial or residential) and the required standards (eg: location and size of buildings).

A)
• to help implement the objectives and policies of a municipality's official plan;
• to provide a specialized legal tool for managing the use of land and future development in your community;
• to help maintain existing property values and protect property owners from the development of conflicting land uses.
A) A number of specialized by-laws may be used to control land use:
  • holding by-laws set out the future use of land or buildings but delay their development until, for example, local services such as sewers and water supplies are in place. Interim uses are usually specified;
  • interim control by-laws are used to place a temporary 'freeze' on certain land uses while a municipality is studying or reviewing its land use policies. Such a freeze can be put in place for a year at a time, to a maximum of two years only;
  • temporary use by-laws zone land or buildings for a specific use for a maximum of three years at a time, with further extensions possible;
  • increased height and density (bonus) by-laws enable a municipality to award increases in density and height of development in return for meeting specific municipal planning objectives. These objectives may include but are not limited to the provision of assisted housing, the preservation of buildings with historical or architectural value, the provision of additional open space or the provision of other services.
A) When a municipality decides to prepare a comprehensive zoning by-law, it must first make adequate information available to the public. Local councils must hold at least one public meeting to allow citizens an opportunity to express their views before a decision is made. Notice of this meeting is given in advance, through the local newspaper. Anyone present at the meeting has a right to address the proposal.

Your local Council also consults with interested agencies, boards, authorities or commissions before making a decision. When full consideration is given to all concerns, Council passes a zoning by-law. If changes are made to the proposal, Council must decide whether another public meeting is necessary.

A) If you propose using or developing your property in a way that does not comply with the existing by-law, you may have to apply for a zoning change. A rezoning, or zoning amendment, can be considered only if your new use is allowed by the City's Official Plan.

However, before you apply for a rezoning, you should discuss your proposal with the City's Infrastructure and Development Services - Planning Division staff. They can offer preliminary advice and information on how to proceed with a formal application.

The process for dealing with zoning amendments is the same as for a zoning by-law. It may also involve review by committees or municipal staff, as well as public meetings and negotiations. If local Council refuses your zoning application you may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (O.M.B.) directly, by writing to the Secretary of the Board.

A) If you are concerned about a zoning application that may affect you or your property, you can take part in the decision making process in the community by:
  • finding out as much as possible about the proposed by-laws;
  • attending the public meeting and expressing your opinions;
  • discussing the proposal with municipal staff and Council members;
  • sending your views in writing to the Municipal Clerk.

If local Council has the benefit of your views early in the process, they can consider all the information, and make changes or modifications to resolve your concerns before the by-law is passed.

Once the by-law is passed, a notice is sent out to those concerned advising them of Council's decision and specifying an appeal period.

A) If your concerns cannot be resolved at the municipal level and you don't agree with Council's decision on the by-law you can, as a last resort, make an appeal to the O.M.B. by writing to the City Clerk. You have a specified period from the date of the Council decision to make your appeal. Remember to write down the reasons for your appeal in detail. The O.M.B. will hold a public hearing at which you'll have an opportunity present your case.

The O.M.B. can either allow or dismiss your appeal, or repeal or amend the by-law in any way it sees fit. The decision is final.

An appeal to the O.M.B. is a serious matter requiring considerable time, effort and in some cases, expense on the part of everyone involved. A hearing can be as brief as a couple of hours if it involves few witnesses and only one or two planning issues but in more complex situations, involving a number of adversaries, the hearing could stretch out over several days, sometimes even weeks.

A) If you have a proposal that is essentially in keeping with the zoning by-law, but does not conform exactly, you may apply for a minor variance. This eliminates the need for a formal rezoning application in cases where, for example, because of the shape of your lot, what you are proposing to do may prevent you from meeting the minimum side yard setback.

As long as the general purpose and intent of the by-law and official plan can be maintained, a variance of "minor" significance can be considered by your municipality.

Obtaining a minor variance involves application to the City's Committee of Adjustment, followed by a public hearing and full consideration of your proposal. Committees of Adjustment are appointed by local Councils to deal with minor problems in meeting municipal by-law standards.

Anyone who disagrees with the Committee's decision should make sure that their appeal gets to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee setting out the reasons supporting the objection. This must be done within 20 days of the Committee's decision.

Unlike a zoning amendment, a minor variance does not change the existing by-law. Instead, it provides relief from the specific requirements of the by-law in order to allow you to follow through with your proposal and obtain a building permit.