The Ontario Planning Act allows municipalities to enact Zoning Bylaws. They determine what a property can be used for, the types of buildings and structures that can be built on the property, and the size and location of such buildings and structures. All property in the Municipality is governed by these Zoning Bylaws, of which there are three, each with application to the areas of the former pre-amalgamation municipalities (Port Stanley Byla~ 1507, Yarmouth Township Bylaw 1998 and Belmont Bylaw 91-21).

If you want a use or to build something that does not comply with the regulations contained within these bylaws, the Planning Act allows any property owner to seek relief by making an application to the municipal Council for an amendment to the existing zoning pertaining to their property. Alternatively, if the change is minor a landowner could ask the Committee of Adjustment for a Minor Variance to the existing zoning.

The Municipality of Central Elgin requires that any proponent of a zoning amendment must attend a mandatory consultation meeting before filing the application. That meeting is usually organized by the Planning Department, and is attended by relevant municipal staff and possibly staff from outside agencies such as the Conservation Authority or the County. The purpose of the consultation meeting is to determine the infonnation the owner must provide in order to consider the application complete.

When an application is filed, the information submitted with the application is reviewed by Planning and Municipal staff to ensure it is adequate to support the proposal, and that all information identified by the consultation process has been included. The applicant is then advised as to whether or not the application is considered complete. If the municipality does not make a decision on the completeness of the application within 30 days of it being filed the applicant may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (0MB) for the Board to make this assessment.

When the application is considered complete, a staff report is prepared for Council. That report advises Council of the application being received, provides a summary of the purpose of the application and the relevant Official Plan policies and current zoning regulations applicable to the subject lands. Staff may also provide comments on the information that was provided in support of the application. A recommendation for a public meeting date is also provided.

Notice of the public meeting must be provided no earlier than 20 days before the date of the meeting. The Planning Act requires that notice may be provided either:

(i) By mail or personal delivery to everyone living within 120 metres of the subject property AND posting a notice on the subject property; or

(ii) By publishing the notice in a newspaper that has sufficient circulation in the area in which the subject property is located.

Notice is also provided to persons/public bodies prescribed by the Planning Act regulations. The Municipality of Central Elgin circulates notice in accordance with (i) above, as well as by publishing the notice in the CE Buzz. The application and all supporting documentation is also made available to the public for viewing at the Municipal office, the Planning office, and on the Municipal website.

The purpose of the public meeting is to afford any person or public body that attends an opportunity to make representation (either written or oral) either in support of, or in opposition to the proposed zoning bylaw amendment.

Council will make a decision on the proposed amendment at some point after the public meeting. That decision is almost never made the night of the public meeting. If there are no issues raised at the public meeting then the proposed by-'law typically appears on the agenda for the next Council meeting. If there are issues raised the matter is usually referred back to staff to detennine if the issues can be resolved. Discussion on the issues can involve any combination of the applicant, staff, Council, the Municipality's solicitor, outside agency staff and members of the public that raised the issues. Supplementary staff reports are provided to Council to update as to the status of negotiations and recommendations on any changes. If a resolve can be made that includes changes to the proposed amendment, Council must decide if those changes are minor or not. If Council feels the changes are minor they can then proceed to make their decision with no further public notice. If Council feels the changes are not minor then a further public meeting would be required so that the public can be made aware of the changes.

The Planning Act states that if Council does not make a decision on the proposed amendment within 120 days from the time that the application was considered complete, the applicant may appeal to the 0MB. Technically Council can take as long as it wants to make its decision. The 120 days is only the trigger point at which the applicant could appeal if no decision has been made.

Council's decision on the proposed amendment will be made by a vote of Council. They may or may not request a recorded vote on the matter so that the minutes reflect how each member voted. Notice of Council's decision is then provided as follows:

If Council refuses to approve the amendment, the Notice of Refusal is sent to:

(i) The applicant;

(ii) Any person or public body that requested in writing to be notified of Council's decision; and (iii) Persons or public bodies prescribed in the regulations of the Planning Act.

If Council approves the amendment, the Notice of Approval is provided as follows:

(i) Publishing the notice in a newspaper that has sufficient circulation in the area in which the subject property is located, OR by mail or personal delivery to everyone living within 120 metres of the subject property;

(ii) The applicant;

(iii) Any person or public body that requested in writing to be notified of Council's decision; and

(iv) Persons or public bodies prescribed in the regulations of the Planning Act.

The Municipality must provide the notice of its decision within 15 days of making the decision. If Council refuses the application, the applicant may appeal that decision to the 0MB within 20 days after the day of giving of the Notice of Refusal.

If Council approves the application the applicant, or any person or public body who, before the bylaw was passed, made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the Council, may appeal that decision to the 0MB within 20 days after the day of giving of the Notice of Approval. This means that you do not only have the public meeting to make a written submission, written submissions can be made at any time up until the time of Council's decision.

The regulations of the Planning Act also provide that if a person or public body does not make oral submissions at a public meeting or make written submissions to Council before the bylaw is passed, the person or public body is not entitled to appeal the decision of Council to the Ontario Municipal Board. Further, if a person or public body does not make oral submissions at a public meeting, or make written submissions to Council before the bylaw is passed, the person or public body may not be added as a party to the hearing of an appeal before the Ontario Municipal Board unless, in the opinion of the Board, there are reasonable grounds to do so. 0MB hearings are public, but to be added as a party to the hearing (and therefore be able to make submissions and representation) you must have made those submissions/representations to Council before they made their decision. Otherwise it is at the discretion of the Board as to whether or not you can participate in the hearing.

The decision of the 0MB is final. An 0MB decision can be appealed if the 0MB made an error in law in its decision. If you feel this is the case, you can, within 15 days of the decision, ask the Divisional Court if you can appeal. Some decisions of the Board are not subject to review or appeal. It is best to contact the Board if you are unsure if it is permitted.

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Zoning Bylaw Process - Candy Hayward