Essex’s Official Plan under review

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Sylene Argent

Council received Policy Planner Jeff Watson’s presentation on the proposed revisions to the Official Plan for the Town of Essex during a special meeting held on Monday, April 3. This was part of the public presentation portion of the project.

The Town of Essex adopted its Official Plan in 2008/09. It was the first official plan approved since the 1999 amalgamation for the municipality. Essex County, since then, has adopted an official plan. As per provincial legislation, the Town must update its plan to reflect the County Official Plan. The County Plan was updated in 2015, Essex Policy Planner Jeff Watson said.

The province requires each municipality update its official plan subsequent to the approval of a new County Official Plan (OP). The revised Essex OP must incorporate the new amended policies of the County’s Official Plan and the provisions and directives of the current Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) that sets out various goals.

The Town OP reflects the policies and objectives of the PPS and COP and mandates directions of Town Council.

The County OP projects most job growth will occur in Tecumseh and Lakeshore and in Windsor. Essex is expected to have a 28 percent employment growth rate by 2031, Watson said.

During the 2015 COP review, Essex submitted a justification plan for the expansion of Essex Centre and Harrow for new industrial development.  The province and county accepted the plan and the settlement area boundaries of the two communities were expanded accordingly, he said.

This review is taking place in three phases, Watson said. The first phases included reviewing statistical information, which was completed in December of 2016.

The second phase includes adding and amending policies related to matters like storm water management and active transportation, and adding new mapping related to source water protection and transportation corridors, and re-designating properties in Essex Centre to industrial, which is on-going.

The third phase will add and amend policies and mapping related to natural heritage and natural processes, which will take place beginning in the fall.

The key initiatives are to enhance policies to recognize diversity in transportation, housing, accessibility, and sustainability, and add policies related to the preservation of vistas, source water protection, storm water management, and the re-use of institutional lands and buildings that have been declared surplus, Watson noted.

It will clarify site plan control exemptions and add new mapping related to source water.

After public meetings, the Planning Department will follow up on comments, which are invited from the public. A report will come to Council outlining comments and recommendations for anyfurther revisions to the Official Plan, Watson said.

A draft bylaw that sets out the specific revisions to the Official Plan will be submitted for Council’s consideration and adoption. It is hoped that the draft bylaw will come before Council for May 15.

After receiving the presentation, the issue that raised concerns for Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche deals with agricultural lot sizes when farmers want to sell them.