SWM_Logo

 

 

...Someplace Special!

E-Post


 

Navigate Accessibility Communities in Bloom Visitors Site Index

About Southwest Middlesex
Applications, Forms & Downloads
Business
Community Calendar
Departments
Employment Opportunities
Links
Mayor and Council
Notices, News & Events
Photo Gallery
Tenders




LAND USE PLANNING

Printed copies of the SWM Official Plan are available through the municipal office at a cost of $25.00 each

2011 SWM COMPREHENSIVE ZONING BY-LAW

2006 - 2026 SWM OFFICIAL PLAN (dated March, 2011)

Land-use planning affects almost every aspect of life in Ontario. It helps decide where our community’s homes and factories should be built, where parks and schools should be located, and where roads, sewers and other essential services should be provided.

Land-use planning means managing our lands and resources. It helps each community to set goals about how it will grow and develop and to work out ways of reaching those goals while keeping important social, economic and environmental concerns in mind. It balances the interests of individual property owners with the wider interests and objectives of the whole community.

Good planning leads to orderly growth and the efficient provision of services. It touches all of us and helps us to have the kind of community we want.

Each section, which follows, explains, as briefly as possible, the planning matters and applications that affect you. Those sections are:

Click on any of these sections to go directly to that particular area.
 

Application Forms

Application Forms can be obtained by selecting any of the following:

Additional Information (may or may not be applicable to your application):

St. Clair Region Conservation Authority Planning Fees
(choose planning fees button on the page that opens)

Back to top

How Can You Get Involved In Municipal Planning Matters?

If you are concerned about any municipal planning applications that may affect you, you should:

  • Find out as much as possible about the application.
  • Think about how the proposal may affect you, your property and your community.
  • Attend any public information sessions on the proposal, where applicable.
  • Discuss your concerns with municipal staff and the Committee of Adjustment/Council members.
  • Provide written comments/concerns prior to the date of the hearing to the Committee of Adjustment/Council.

If your concerns are known early in the process, your comments can be taken into account before any decisions are made on the applications.

Rights of Appeal

Appeals concerning planning matters are to made in writing to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Appeals must be accompanied with the fee required by the OMB. Such fee is currently $125.00. The most up-to-date information can be obtained at www.omb.gov.on.ca, which is the OMB’s web site. Any required forms can be obtained from this site as well.
 

What Are The Powers of the Ontario Municipal Board?

When a decision is appealed, the OMB will hold a hearing where you will have the chance to present and discuss your views. The OMB can make any decision that the planning authority could have made on the application.  The OMB also has the power to dismiss an appeal without holding a hearing. You should be aware that the Ontario Municipal Board may dismiss an appeal without holding a hearing if an appellant has not made oral submissions at a public meeting or provided council with written submissions before the proposal is adopted. 

The OMB is an independent administrative tribunal responsible for hearing appeals and deciding on a variety of contentious municipal matters.

Appealing a matter to the OMB is a serious matter. It can take considerable time, effort and in some cases, money for everyone involved. A hearing may last only a few hours if the matter is quite simple, but for more complicated matters, a hearing can last for several days or even weeks.

The OMB will make a decision based on the facts presented at a hearing.

Back to top 

What is a land severance?   

A land severance is the authorized separation of a piece of land to form two new adjoining properties. This is commonly known as a consent. It is required if you want to sell, mortgage, charge or enter into any agreement for (at least 21 years) a portion of your land. If the two parts are split already, by a road or railway for example, consent is not needed.

The Plan for Southwest Middlesex has specific policies and requirements for land severance. In addition to the division of land, rights-of-way, easements, any change to your existing property boundaries also requires land severance approval.

If severances are intended in the same area, a plan of subdivision may be more appropriate.


The indiscriminate division of land without anyone’s approval could have a long-term, negative impact on your community. For example, it could result in over-extension of municipal services, such as snow plowing, school busing and garbage collection. Or it might result in damage to the natural environment, because lots are too small to accommodate adequate sewage disposal systems.

Official approval is required to ensure that:

  • Land severances are considered within an established Municipal Zoning By-law and the Middlesex County Official Plan.
  • New lots and new land uses do not conflict with the overall future planning goals and policies of your community.
  • Consideration is given to the effects of the division of land on the site, on neighbours and on the community as a whole.

Once a severance has been approved, the new land parcels may be sold or resold without further approval. The only exception is if the Committee of Adjustment has specified otherwise at the time of approval.
 

How Do I File a Severance/Consent Application?

Before you apply for a land severance, you should consult with the Administrator/Clerk for Southwest Middlesex. You may also want to contact the County of Middlesex Planning Department.

Staff will be able to tell you how to apply, including:

  • what supporting material you must submit (e.g. sketches, plans)
  • If there are any special land severance requirements set out in the official plan and what other permits and approvals (e.g. a septic tank permit) may be required.

Complete the Application, including the following:

  • A cheque made payable to the Municipality of Southwest Middlesex in the amount of $1,750.00, being the application fee, as set out in By-law No. 2008/039.
  • Three copies of the completed application and any drawings or attachments.
  • If you are using an agent or solicitor, your written authorization, identifying by name, the individual who will be your agent or solicitor.
  • A typical application form contains both the information, which is prescribed by minister's regulation, as well as additional information, which the Committee of Adjustment may require.

The more information provided, the less likely delays will occur in the review.

If you do not provide all the information prescribed by minister's regulation, the Committee of Adjustment may refuse to accept or to further consider your application. Also, the 60-day time frame for making a decision does not begin until all the prescribed information is received. You are encouraged to contact the Administrator/Clerk, if you need help in assessing what information is required.

Notice of Public Hearing and Circulation of Application.

After your application has been received, a notice of Public Hearing will be mailed to all assessed property owners within 300 metres (984 feet) of the property, at least 14 days before the date of the Hearing. Any person or public body may submit his/her views to the Committee of Adjustment.

At the same time copies of your application will be circulated to external agencies. The purpose of this circulation is to obtain advice from and/or the requirements of these interested groups in the form of reports for the Committee of Adjustment that are considered at the Public Hearing.
 

Public Hearing and Decision-Making Process.

The Public Hearing will normally be held within 30 days of receiving your application. It is very important that you and/or your agent or solicitor attend the Hearing to explain the reasons for your application. If you do not attend, the Committee may proceed in your absence. Other interested persons are also entitled to attend and to express their views about the application. The Committee will also consider verbal advice and written reports from the planner and staff. Besides considering the site-specific aspects of the application, the Committee will also use the following criteria to evaluate the application and reach its decision:

  • conformity with the official plan and compatibility with adjacent uses of land
    compliance with local zoning by-laws
  • suitability of the land for the proposed purpose, including the size and shape of the lot(s) being created
  • adequacy of vehicular access, water supply, sewage disposal
  • the need to ensure protection from potential flooding

In considering a consent application, the Committee of Adjustment shall have regard to the Provincial Policy Statement.

The Provincial Policy Statement contains clear, overall policy directions on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The "shall have regard to" rule means that the consent-granting authority is obliged to consider the application of a specific policy statement when carrying out its planning responsibility. It is expected that the Committee of Adjustment will implement the Provincial Policy Statement in the context of other planning objectives and local circumstances.

Notice of Decision

Within 15 days of the Committee making its decision, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee will mail one copy of the decision to you and to anyone else who filed a written request for notice of the decision. Information is included in the Notice of Decision outlining appeal procedures and identifying the last day for appealing the Committee’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

When a notice of decision is given, a 20-day appeal period follows.
 

What about conditions of severance approval?

A severance approval may have certain conditions attached to it including requirements for road widening, parkland dedication, a rezoning, or minor variance to allow a new land use. In addition, the property owner may be required to enter into an agreement with the municipality to provide future services or facilities. Severance conditions must be met within one year.
 

When The Decision is Final and Binding.

When proof has been provided by the applicant that the conditions have been met, the authority issues a certificate, and the severance goes into effect. As noted above, all severance conditions must be met within one year or the severance will lapse.

Back to top 

What is a Minor Variance?                                               

The Municipality’s Zoning By-law regulates the way in which land can be used in the Municipality by designating different areas with land use zones. The by-laws also contain rules that apply to each zone for things such as permitted uses, building set backs and lot coverage. If you want to locate something on your property but the shape of your lot won’t let you meet the minimum setback, you may be a candidate for a minor variance. If your proposed change does not conform exactly to the zoning by-law, but follows the general intent, you can apply for a minor variance.

How do I Make a Minor Variance Application?


Before you fill out an application, discuss the application with the Chief Building Official. This will help to determine:

  • the need for a variance;
  • the nature of the variance;
  • whether or not there might be servicing requirements or land dedications involved with a given proposal, or
  • whether or not an amendment to the zoning by-law is required, rather than a variance.

If a zoning by-law amendment is needed, this cannot be dealt with by the Committee of Adjustment but must be handled by filing a different type of application directly with the Clerk.


Complete the Application, including the following:

  • a cheque made payable to the Municipality of Southwest Middlesex in the amount of $800.00, being the application fee, as set out in By-law No. 2008/039.
  • three copies of a dimensioned and scaled drawing of the proposal depicting the lot and showing the location and size of the buildings and of the parking and access on the lot.
  • if you are using an agent or solicitor, your written authorization identifying by name the individual who will be your agent or solicitor.
  • in some cases, additional information could be helpful in assessing an application; you are encouraged to submit photographs or other relevant documentation.

Notice of Public Hearing and Circulation of Application

After your application has been received, a notice of Public Hearing will be sent to all assessed property owners within 60 metres (197 feet) of the property, at least 14 days before the date of the Hearing. Any person or public body may submit his/her views to the Committee of Adjustment.

At the same time copies of your application will be circulated to external agencies. The purpose of this circulation is to obtain advice from and/or the requirements of these interested groups in the form of reports for the Committee of Adjustment that are considered at the Public Hearing.
 

Public Hearing and Decision Making Process

The Public Hearing will normally be held within 30 days of receiving your application. It is very important that you and/or your agent or solicitor attend the Hearing to explain the reasons for your application; if you do not attend, the Committee may proceed in your absence. Other interested persons are also entitled to attend and to express their views about the application. The Committee will also consider verbal advice and written reports from the planner and staff. Besides considering the site-specific aspects of the application, the Committee will also use the following criteria to evaluate the application and reach its decision:

  • Is the variance minor?
  • Is it desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure?
  • Is the general intent and purpose of the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law being maintained?
  • If your application is approved, the Committee may impose conditions as part of its decision
     

Notice of Decision

Within 10 days of the Committee making its decision, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee will mail one copy of the decision to you and to anyone else who filed a written request for notice of the decision. Information is included in the Notice of Decision outlining appeal procedures and identifying the last day for appealing the Committee's decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

When a notice of decision is given, a 20-day appeal period follows.
 

When the Decision is Final and Binding

If no appeal is made by the end of the 20 day appeal period, the decision is final and binding. You will be notified by mail, and, if the application has been approved, you should, subject to the fulfillment of any conditions set out in the final decision, be in a position to apply for a building permit or be in compliance with the zoning by-law.

Approximately 10 to 12 weeks elapse from the time an application is filed with the Secretary-Treasurer to the point where a decision of the Committee of Adjustment is final and binding.

Back to top

What is an Official Plan?                                                                    

An official plan describes the Municipality’s and County Council's policies on how land in Southwest Middlesex and Middlesex County should be used. It is prepared with input from you and your fellow citizens and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of your community.

An official plan deals mainly with issues such as:

  • where new housing, industry, offices and shops will go
  • what services like roads, watermains, sewers, parks and schools will be needed
  • when and in what order parts of your community will grow
     

Why do you need an official plan?

The Southwest Middlesex Official Plan:

  • describes to the public how land in your community should be used now and in the future.
    makes sure that growth is coordinated and meets your community needs
  • advises of the municipality’s general land use planning policies.
  • helps decide where roads, watermains, sewers, landfills, parks and other services will go
    provides a framework for setting local regulations and standards, like the size of lots and height of buildings
  • provides a way to evaluate and settle conflicting land uses while meeting local, regional and provincial interests
  • shows your council's commitment to the planned growth of your community

What is the official plan process?

Pre-consultation, public meeting and input.

When it is considering an official plan, Southwest Middlesex must ensure that:

  • the appropriate approval authority is consulted
  • at least one public meeting is held, notice of which must be given at least 20 days ahead of time, by mail and by a sign posted at the property
  • adequate information, including a copy of the proposed plan, is made available to the public in advance of the public meeting

Any person or public body present at the public meeting has a right to speak about the proposed plan.

Southwest Middlesex may consult with agencies boards authorities or commissions before making a decision.

When Southwest Middlesex prepares an official plan, it shall have regard to the Provincial Policy Statement issued under the Planning Act. The Provincial Policy Statement contains clear, overall policy directions on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The "shall have regard to" rule means that a council is obliged to consider the application of a specific policy statement when carrying out its planning responsibility. It is expected that the council will implement the Provincial Policy Statement in the context of other planning objectives and local circumstances.
 

What happens next?

Once an official plan is in effect, it guides all of the municipality's planning decisions. It means that:

  • the local Councils and municipal officials must follow the plan
  • all new services, sewer or watermains, for example, must conform to the plan
  • all zoning by-laws must comply with the official plan.

However, an official plan is not set forever. The plan can also be changed or amended, as the community's needs change.

Back to top

What is an official plan amendment?

An official plan amendment is a formal document that changes the Southwest Middlesex Official. Changes may be needed because of new circumstances in the community or because of requests made by property owners.

An approved official plan can be reviewed at any time, but Southwest Middlesex must hold a public meeting at least once every five years to look at whether the plan needs to be changed.

All amendments are proposed, discussed and processed in the same way as the original plan. As discussed earlier, when a council considers an official plan/amendment, it shall have regard to the Provincial Policy Statement issued under the Planning Act.

If you want to use your property or develop it in a way that conflicts with the Southwest Middlesex Official Plan, you will need an amendment to the plan. You should talk first to the Administrator/Clerk, who can let you know if the change is possible, what problems you might encounter and how you should apply.

When you apply to amend an official plan, you are required to submit information, which is prescribed by minister’s regulation, as well as other additional information, which the municipality may require about the amendment. The more information provided, the less likely delays will occur in the review.

The fee charged by Southwest Middlesex for official plan amendments is $1,750.00 as set out in By-law No. 2008/039.

You should be aware that if you do not provide all the information prescribed by minister's regulation, the municipality may refuse to accept or to further consider your request to amend, and the 90-day time frame for making a decision does not begin until all the prescribed information is received by the municipality. Contact the municipality if you need help in assessing what information is required.

If the Council refuses or fails to act on your request within 90 days after the prescribed information is submitted, you may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board by filing a notice of appeal with the municipality. The municipality must send your appeal with the accompanying materials and the appropriate fee to the OMB within 15 days of the receipt of your appeal.

Back to top

What is site plan control?                                                                   

A Site Plan is a drawing, or set of drawings, illustrating the physical arrangement of property improvements such as buildings, driveways, parking areas, pedestrian sidewalks, landscaping, fences, light fixtures, drains and municipal services.

Site plans, along with other building regulations, are often looked upon as just so much red tape. In fact, however, they are designed to protect the interests of all parties:

  • the public
  • the municipality
  • and the builder.

The Site Plan Approval process promotes functional and attractive development, while minimizing adverse impacts on the surrounding land uses.

Site plan controls are used to ensure that:

  • developments are built and maintained in the way that Council approved.
  • New developments meet certain standards of quality and appearance.
  • There is safe and easy access for pedestrians and vehicles.
  • There is adequate landscaping, parking and drainage.
  • Nearby properties are protected from incompatible development.

As a condition of site plan approval, municipalities may require the owner to provide land for road widening and public transit rights-of-way. Before municipalities can exercise this power, the road widening and public transit rights-of-way must be shown or described in the official plan.

The fee payable to the municipality for Site Plan Approval is $1,500.00 as set out in By-law No. 2008/039.

Back to top

What is Site Plan Approval?

If required, Site Plan Approval is completed prior to the issuance of a building permit. It is an interactive process involving both the property owner and Municipality staff to match the property owner's requirements with both the unique characteristics of each property and municipal development standards.
 

What types of development require Site Plan Approval?

All commercial, institutional, industrial and residential developments (except single and semi-detached dwelling units) are subject to site plan approval, along with commercial parking lots and mobile home developments.


What are the steps to complete Site Plan Approval?

Step 1
Consult with the Building Department: Staff are available to explain the process, indicate the feasibility of the proposed development and may be able to point out any special considerations for the property.


Step 2
Submit the Application: This should be done early in the design process, before any substantial investment of time and expense in the completion of a detailed landscape and site engineering plans. An early staff review of a preliminary site layout plan will minimize the time and expense of revisions and facilitate "value added" site plan improvements.

 

The drawings submitted with an application should include:

  • a surveyor's plan of the property;
  • existing natural features, vegetation and ground contours;
  • the proposed locations of building, driveways, parking areas and pedestrian paths located both on the property and on the boulevard adjacent to the property; and
  • site data such as lot area, setbacks, coverage, landscaped open space and building height to demonstrate compliance with the regulations of the zoning by-law

Step 3
Meet with municipal staff: Applications are reviewed for compliance with the applicable regulations of the zoning by-law, circulated to the necessary Municipal Departments and outside agencies and scheduled for consideration by the staff and council. Applicants are invited to attend and participate in the Site Plan review meeting. The outcome of the meeting includes a preliminary approval of the site layout plan (as may be revised at the meeting) and a list of requirements to complete the approval. These requirements are specific to each property and may include items such as a tree preservation report, an environmental audit, traffic study, dedication of land for road widening, storm water management plans, noise impact analysis, shared driveways with abutting properties and special screening requirements.

Step 4
Complete the Required Site Plan Information: The applicant finalizes the site layout plan (including any revisions requested by staff and council) and completes the list of requirements as set out. This includes a detailed landscape design and site engineering design based on the finalized site layout plan. Municipality staff reviews the completed information and any required revisions to this information are provided to the applicant for further submission.

Step 5
Finalize the Approval: Site Plan Approval is granted on the advice of the Building Department. This approval includes prerequisite approvals as may be required by other agencies such as the County of Oxford, the Ministry of Environment, and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. Approval is conditional upon the applicant providing performance security to the Township to ensure completion of the site development in accordance with the approved plans. Once responses are received from the various agencies, a development agreement may be required between the property owner and the Municipality, and is registered on the title of the property.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Approval?

Depending upon the scale, complexity and information requirements of an application, the approval process may be completed in 2-8 weeks. Complex applications that involve a public participation meeting may take up to 3-4 months.
 

Is there an appeal process?

Objections to or the refusal of an application may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board only by the applicant.
 

At what point will the performance security be released?

Upon the completion of the site development work, Municipality staff inspects the property, assist the owner to identify and correct any outstanding matters and authorize the release of performance security.


Back to top 

What is a subdivision?                                                                         
When you divide a piece of land into two or more parcels in order to sell one or more, you are subdividing property, and the provisions of the Planning Act come into play.

To subdivide land, you need approval of a plan of subdivision from Southwest Middlesex.

Subdivision approval ensures that:

  • the land is suitable for its proposed new use
  • the proposal conforms to the official plan in your community, as well as to provincial legislation and policies
  • you, your neighbours and your community are protected from developments which are inappropriate or may put an undue strain on community facilities, services or finances

Problems can result when large tracts of land are split into building lots without the benefit of a formal approval process. People have found out, usually too late, that the lots they have purchased are not on a registered plan. It may be that the water supply is unusable or the access road is not plowed or maintained. Other purchasers have found out that the ownership or title to their property has been in doubt, making it difficult to sell.

If your proposal involves creating only a lot or two, you may seek approval for a "land severance" instead.

 

Who is the approval authority for plans of subdivision?

Southwest Middlesex has been delegated subdivision approval authority from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

 

What is a registered plan of subdivision?

A registered plan of subdivision is a legal document that shows
:

  • the exact surveyed boundaries and dimensions of lots on which houses or buildings are to be built
  • the location, width and names of streets
  • the sites of any schools or parks

The plan does not show specific building locations; these are set out in the zoning by-law and site plan approval.

The plan of subdivision must be:

  • surveyed by an Ontario land surveyor
  • in general conformity with the Southwest Middlesex Official Plan as well as provincial policies
  • approved by the proper authority
  • registered in the local land registry system

A registered plan of subdivision creates new, separate parcels of land and can be legally used for the sale of lots. It should not be confused with "compiled plans" or "reference plans" which are used simply to describe parcels of land.

What is the process for subdividing?

If you are thinking about subdividing your property, discuss your proposal first with the Administrator/Clerk, who can tell you what information you will need to provide and whether the Southwest Middlesex Official Plan and/or zoning by-law will have to be amended before your subdivision can be allowed.

Subdivision applications are made to Southwest Middlesex. The application fee for this process is $2,000.00, which is to be made payable to the Municipality of Southwest Middlesex.

As an applicant, you are required to fill out a subdivision application form provided by Southwest Middlesex.

You should be aware that if you do not provide all the information prescribed by minister's regulation, the approval authority may refuse to accept or to further consider your application and the 90-day time frame for making a decision does not begin until all the prescribed information is received. You are encouraged to contact the Administrator/Clerk if you need help in assessing what information is required.

The Municipality must give notice of application and hold a public meeting before a decision is made. Notice of the public meeting is given at least 14 days in advance, with a sign posted at the subject property and by mail to all assessed landowners within 120 metres (394 feet). Anyone present at the meeting has a right to speak about the proposal.

The Municipality may consult with agencies, boards, authorities or commissions before making a decision.
 

How are applications for subdivision evaluated?

In considering a plan of subdivision, Southwest Middlesex evaluates the merits of the proposal against criteria such as:

  • conformity with the official plan and compatibility with adjacent uses of land
    compliance with the Southwest Middlesex Zoning By-law
  • suitability of the land for the proposed purpose, including the size and shape of the lot(s) being created
  • adequacy of vehicular access, water supply, sewage disposal
  • the need to ensure protection from potential flooding

The approval authority shall have regard to the Provincial Policy Statement when making a decision.

The Provincial Policy Statement contains clear, overall policy directions on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The "shall have regard to" rule means that the approval authority is obliged to consider the application of a specific policy statement when carrying out its planning responsibility. It is expected that the approval authority will implement the Provincial Policy Statement in the context of other planning objectives and local circumstances.
 

What is a draft approval?

Having considered your application, Southwest Middlesex may either "draft approve" or refuse your subdivision proposal.

The Municipality must provide a written notice of its decision to the applicant and each person or public body requesting to be notified of a decision within 15 days of its decision. When a notice of decision is given, a 20-day appeal period follows.


If your application is draft approved, you will be advised of any conditions to be met in order to obtain final approval and registration. Conditions of draft approval may include road widening, the naming of streets, parkland requirements, rezoning of the area to reflect the new uses in the subdivision, and any other municipal requirements. In addition, draft approval may also include a lapsing provision, which establishes a time frame within which the conditions must be met or the draft approval will lapse.

In most cases, the developer may be required to sign a subdivision agreement with the Municipality and/or County to ensure that certain services such as sidewalks and roads are provided after the plan has been registered.

Draft approval amounts to a commitment to go ahead with the subdivision, once all the conditions of draft approval have been met. Lots may be offered for sale after draft approval, but can be sold only after the plan of subdivision has been registered.

If the Municipality knows about your concerns early in the process, it can try to take them into account before making a decision on the draft plan of subdivision.


When can a subdivision be registered?


When all conditions of the draft approval have been met, final approval is given and the plan of subdivision is registered in the provincial land titles or registry system. The developer may then go ahead with the sale of lots in the subdivision.

You should be aware that considerable time might pass between draft approval and actual registration of the plan. However, Southwest Middlesex has the power to provide that draft approval will lapse after three years. It also has the power to give a further extension of draft approval.
 

When must services be provided?
 

Although many services for new subdivisions are not provided until well after registration, the Municipality and/or County may insist that they be in place before new residents move into their new home. The applicant may be required to sign a detailed subdivision agreement, which is sometimes registered on the title of the property and legally binds future owners to its conditions.

 

Are condominiums a form of subdivision?

Yes. Condominiums are a form of property ownership in which title to a unit, such as an individual apartment in a high-rise building, is held by an individual together with a share of the rest of the property, which is common to all of the owners.

Condominiums can involve a brand new development, or an existing rental project, which is converted to condominium ownership. They can apply to any type of residential building as well as commercial and industrial areas. Vacant land is not eligible.

A condominium plan is like a plan of subdivision in that it is a way of dividing property. Similarly, Southwest Middlesex must approve plans of condominium.


Applications for draft plans of condominium are not subject to the requirements of giving notice of application and holding a public meeting. However, the approval authority is still required to give a notice of decision and the 20-day appeal period following the giving of the notice of decision applies.

Back to top

What is a zoning by-law?                                                              

The Municipality’s Zoning By-law controls the use of land in the Municipality. It states exactly:

  • 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 setbacks from the street.

The Southwest Middlesex Official Plan sets out general policies for future land use. The Zoning By-law puts the plan into effect and provides for its day-to-day administration. They contain specific requirements that are legally enforceable. Construction or new development that doesn't comply with a zoning by-law is not allowed, and the municipality will refuse to issue a building permit. The by-law specifies the permitted uses (e.g. commercial or residential) and the required standards (e.g. building size and location) in each zone.
 

Why do you need a zoning by-law?

A zoning by-law:

  • implements the objectives and policies of the Southwest Middlesex Official Plan
  • provides a legal way of managing land use and future development
  • protects you from conflicting and possibly dangerous land uses in your community

What is a zoning by-law amendment?

If you want to use or develop your property in a way that is not allowed by the zoning by-law, you may have to apply for a zoning change, also known as a zoning by-law amendment or a rezoning. But Council can consider a change only if the new use is allowed by the official plan.

Before you apply for rezoning, you should talk to the municipal staff, or Administrator/Clerk, for advice and information. You are required to complete an application form that contains information prescribed by the minister and any other additional information that the municipality may require.

The fee for a Zoning By-law Amendment is $1,200.00 as set out in By-law No. 2008/039.

The process for dealing with zoning by-law amendments is the same as for a zoning by-law. If Council refuses your zoning application, or if it does not make a decision within 90 days of the receipt of your application containing the prescribed information, you may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

How is a zoning by-law passed?

When Council decides to pass a zoning by-law, it must first give as much information as possible to the public. There must also be at least one public meeting before a by-law is passed and everyone who attends the meeting must have a chance to speak. Notice of this meeting is given 20 days in advance, by mail and through a sign posted on the subject lands.

The Planning Act encourages early upfront involvement and the use of mediation techniques to resolve any conflicts. Make sure you make your views known early in the planning process. If you don't, this may mean that the OMB could dismiss any appeal you may make later on, without holding a hearing.

The municipality, in review of the application, may also consult with interested agencies before it makes a decision. After hearing everyone's concerns, Council may decide to pass, change or reject the proposed by-law. If it decides to make some changes, it may also decide to hold another public meeting.

Once Council has passed the by-law, it must give notice of the passing of the by-law within 15 days after the by-law is passed. Any person or public body may, not later than 20 days after the notice of the passing of the by-law is given, appeal to the OMB by filing a notice of appeal with the Administrator/Clerk. The appeal should set out the objections to the by-law and the reasons in support of the objections accompanied by the fee required by the OMB.

How are zoning by-laws evaluated?

The planner prepares a report for Council's consideration and evaluates it against criteria such as:

  • conformity with the official plan and compatibility with adjacent uses of land
  • suitability of the land for the proposed purpose, including the size and shape of the lot(s) being created
  • adequacy of vehicular access, water supply, sewage disposal
  • the need to ensure protection from potential flooding

When Council considers a zoning by-law, it shall have regard to the Provincial Policy Statement issued under the Planning Act. The Provincial Policy Statement contains clear, overall policy directions on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The "shall have regard to" rule means that a Council is obliged to consider the application of a specific policy statement when carrying out its planning responsibility. It is expected that the Council will implement the Provincial Policy Statement in the context of other planning objectives and local circumstances.
 

What if you only need a minor change?

If your proposed change doesn't conform exactly to the zoning by-law, but follows its general intent, you can apply for a minor variance. For example, you might want to locate something on your property but the shape of your lot won't let you meet the minimum setback. Please refer to the section concerning Minor Variances.

A minor variance does not change a zoning by-law. It simply excuses you from a specific requirement of the by-law and allows you to obtain a building permit.

What other types of zoning by-laws are there?

There are several types of special by-laws that can be used to control land use:

  1. Holding by-laws allow future uses for land or buildings but delay development until local services, such as roads, are in place.
     
  2. Interim control by-laws put a temporary freeze on some land uses while the municipality is studying or reviewing its policies. The freeze can be imposed for only a year, with a maximum extension of another year. The Planning Act provides that an interim control by-law would remain in effect past the two-year period if the new zoning by-law which replaces the interim control by-law is appealed to the OMB. The new by-law does not become law until the OMB hears the appeal and decides.
     
  3. Temporary use by-laws zone land or buildings for specific uses for a maximum period of three years at a time, with further extensions possible. In cases of authorizing the temporary use of a garden suite (i.e. a one-unit detached residential structure containing bathroom and kitchen facilities that is ancillary to an existing structure and that is designed to be portable), the temporary by-law may allow it for a period not exceeding ten years, with further extension possible.
     
  4. Increased height and density by-laws allow buildings to exceed permitted standards, but only if the developer provides certain services to your community in return, such as parkland. Your municipality cannot use these by-laws unless its official plan includes policies allowing increases in height and density.
     

What are site plan control by-laws?

Site plan control by-laws are not zoning by-laws. They are used to establish areas where site plan control will be applied over and above those set out in the zoning by-laws. These areas are described in the Southwest Middlesex Official Plan. Please see the section concerning Site Plan Control.

What is a minister's zoning order?

The Planning Act gives the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the authority to zone any property in the province. Zoning orders are rarely used where municipalities have existing zoning by-laws, but can be used to protect a provincial interest. They are used mostly in areas of northern Ontario where there is no local municipality or local zoning by-law. Once a minister's zoning order is in place, the minister can either delegate the administration of the order to the local planning board or deem it to be the local by-law, in which case the planning board would have all the powers to pass by-laws to make any changes.
 

What other approvals may be required?

In addition to the planning approvals and building permit, which are needed for a building project, there are other permits and approvals required in particular circumstances. For example, a septic tank permit is required for a new septic system.

 Back to top

Contact Us:
153 McKellar Street, Box 218
Glencoe  ON  N0L 1M0
Voice:  519-287-2015
Fax:     519-287-2359
E-mail:  info@southwestmiddlesex.ca
Website updated: 06/02/2014                            Disclaimer                               Contact the Webmaster