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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Council to consider six amendments to the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law

by Sylene Argent

On Monday, August 23, Essex Council hosted a special meeting regarding six possible general amendments to the Town of Essex Comprehensive Zoning By-Law, By-Law 1037.

  The statutory public meeting was meant to give Council an opportunity to hear public feedback for a future decision on the matter.

  Rita Jabbour, Manager of Planning for the Town of Essex, noted Zoning By-Laws control the use of land in a community through a set of regulations, which are legally enforceable through the Town’s building and by-law enforcement departments.

  The By-Laws are established through the provincial Planning Act. As part of that, Council could pass amendments to determine how land may be used, where buildings and other structures can be located, the types of buildings that are permitted and how they may be used, the lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights and densities, and setbacks from a street.

  The Town of Essex’s current Zoning By-Law was passed in 2010, but it gets amended as a result of changes in Building Code regulations, land use trends, and Official Plan Policies, Jabbour noted.

  Jabbour said the meeting was held because there are some amendments that need to be made to the Zoning By-Law. Members of Administration, she explained, have analyzed recent applications to the Committee of Adjustment, which can approve minor variances for Zoning By-Law amendments. In addition, members of administration have heard similar development inquiries from residents that may not comply with the Zoning By-Law.

  She presented six matters for Council to consider:

• That the minimum exterior side yard width between a main dwelling and a detached accessory building be four-feet in the Residential Districts, R1.1, R2.1, R2.2, subject to a minimum 20-foot setback for garage entrances facing the exterior lot line.

• That the provisions of subsection 9.5 of the Zoning By-law, regarding the extension of a porch or sunroom into a required rear yard, be deleted or that encroachments of porches and sunrooms be limited to porches and sunrooms of one-storey only, measured at grade.

• For lots not serviced by a municipal sanitary sewer in the Residential R1.1 zoning district, that the minimum lot area be reduced to 10,000 square-feet and that the choice of which septic sewage treatment system be determined by the Chief Building Official. Tertiary treatment septic system shall be required for any new dwelling or when the replacement of an existing septic system is mandated by the Ontario Building Code.

• That the provisions of the Agricultural A1.1 zoning district regarding special building and yard regulations for small lots be applied to lots of one-acre or less in the A1.1 and A1.2 districts and that the minimum rear yard depth be 25-feet.

• Amend zoning regulation Section 8.5 to provide that a residential home occupation may take place in an accessory building to a dwelling located on a lot of 20,000 square-feet or greater in lot area, provided the accessory building is not located in a required yard or within a floodplain development control area.

• That a “Temporary Outdoor Vendor’s Site” be added as permitted use in the C3.2, Highway Commercial Corridor Zoning District.

  Jabbour noted ERCA had concerns with reductions in minimum lot areas, building and lot standards, and home occupations in outbuildings if implemented for flood-prone areas.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen expressed concern with the regulation that a tertiary treatment septic system shall be required for any new dwelling or when replacing an existing septic system, as he said this style is typically more expensive.

  Council heard from a few delegates during the meeting.

  Tim Sunderland spoke on behalf of family members, and noted they were in favour of proposed changes for home occupations in outbuildings. He said his daughter wants to open a gluten-free bakery as a home occupation business and needs to use a separate kitchen to do so.   

  Peter Valente, a local developer, said the encroachments presented at the meeting seemed a little heavy going forward. He thinks the changes regarding encroachments will result in many Committee of Adjustment meetings regarding the Zoning By-Law.

  Jabbour explained a deck higher than 1.2-meters would not be allowed to encroach into the required rear yard.

  Lori Chadwick, Director of Development, said the proposed amendment is a result of a motion Council passed regarding the impact these encroachments have when new subdivisions and builds abut existing neighborhoods. The regulation is to alleviate the impact of a deck on a second-story and its encroachment into the required rear yard. What happened is that in some cases, the porch was encroaching into the required yard so deeply, their deck was looking into the back-yard of their rear yard neighbour.

  Councillor Joe Garon wondered if Council could consider different rules for new development backing onto new development versus new development backing onto existing development.

  Valente doesn’t believe the proposed amendment will solve the problem. He provided a few suggestions that he thought may help. Chadwick asked him to submit his suggestions in writing, and suggested he meet with administration to discuss them further.   

  A Report to Council and proposed By-Law will be prepared and presented for Council consideration at a future meeting, likely the one scheduled for September 7. At that meeting, Council could approve, deny, or defer the amendments proposed. 

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