Council discusses revisions to Zoning By-law

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by Adam Gault

Essex Town Council held a special meeting on Monday evening with regards to proposed changes to the Town’s General Zoning Bylaw 1037 Plan.

During the meeting, Council received a presentation from Policy Planner Jeff Watson, regarding the changes being considered as part of the plan.

The main focus of the presentation and of the changes going forward include the potential rezoning of several parcels of land near Highway #3 in Essex Centre as new light industrial lands from their current designation as agricultural lands.

These would include plots on the south side of Concession 8, west of Highway #3, and several others located parallel to Highway #3 on South Talbot Rd., south of Maidstone Avenue.

The proposed changes are part of the Official Plan Amendment (OPA 6), which was passed earlier this year. The approval of this amendment added new policies and guidelines to the Town’s Official Plan (OP), which are to be undertaken in three phases over the course of three years. This will give the Town the opportunity to bring their OP into conformity with the County’s OP.

Phase 1 and 2, which have been completed at this time, included the incorporation of more user-friendly provisions in terms of clearer mapping, land use projections in line with the County OP, policies related to public health and safety, storm water management, and land uses not related to the natural environment.

The proposed rezoning of the land chosen in the report would permit a variety of light industrial and service uses appropriate for the location between the highway and a future residential development.

Watson explained it’s important to maintain a high standard of development along Highway #3, as any new businesses at that location would be highly visible and have the ability to influence the image that is presented of our community.

Taking that into consideration, the location of any future loading areas, service doors, and outdoor storage areas would be placed in a way that would minimize their impact on adjacent residential properties.

Several Councillors expressed concerns that the properties west of Highway #3 are without services, including water. Watson said it would up to the developers to reach out to the municipality regarding what services they require for their developments.

Councillor Larry Snively expressed concerns that the Town would be “cuffed” in terms of development until the MTO determines if that section of Highway 3 is to be expanded to four lanes.

“We could be sitting here 10 or 15 years while the MTO decides what they want to see,” Snively said.

The proposed changes also included altering the minimum lot size for dwellings with a septic system from 20,000 sq. ft. to 10,000 sq. ft.

According to the report, if a lot is to have an area of less than 20,000 sq. ft., a tertiary septic system shall be required for any new dwelling where the replacement of an existing septic system is mandated by the Ontario Building Code.

Provisions related to the use of shipping containers for permanent storage were also brought forward, including regulations that they not be allowed in a front yard, hidden from the view of a residential district, and be limited to a one unit maximum on a lot of less than half a hectare.

Councillor Steve Bjorkman inquired as to whether a permanent trailer could be taxed as a structure, with Watson explaining that as an accessory structure, a permanent storage unit could be taxable feature if that was a direction the Council wished to explore.

The report was received as presented, with Phase 3 of the plan to be implemented at a later date.