For the village of Minden, the spring of 2013 will long be remembered as the spring when the Gull River rose up over its banks, flooding homes and businesses. The devastation that the flood waters bring is very real, both in the short term and the longer term. It is one of the few examples illustrating the power of the natural environment that still manages to render us almost powerless. Short of piling sandbags, there is little we can do except join together to support each other in our time of collective need.
Having said that, there are lessons to learn about how to avoid this level of devastation and despair in the future, through effective Official Plan policies and zoning by-law provisions.
“We don’t want to go to the Board”.
That’s what most planners and lawyers will tell you. However, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) may be your last chance to get your development approved. Or, conversely, you may be going before the Board to defend your development. While the OMB is nothing to be afraid of, it can certainly be a difficult and nerve-racking experience, especially considering the stakes. Given the scrutiny of the Board, it is important to be prepared and to understand the procedures involved.
The Waiting Game
A few weeks ago we discussed pre-consultation, the first step of the development approval process. Step Two of the approval process is application submission, circulation and review. At this point, you have submitted your development application to the municipality for review. The municipality has 30 days to determine if the application is complete. As mentioned in the previous blog, a complete application means all required items have been included in your application submission. This includes all the items identified on the application form and everything addressed at the pre-consultation meeting (i.e., fees, concept plan or site plan, and technical studies/reports, etc).
The purpose of application circulation and review is to ensure compliance with all applicable policies and regulations that govern the municipality, thereby ensuring responsible planning and development in the interest of the public. However, the method by which it is conducted is onerous, and long delays can occur as municipalities often operate at their own pace. For this step in the process, patience is key.
A recently common trend throughout Canada has been poor voter turnout for municipal elections. It seems obvious on the surface – municipal politics doesn’t receive anything close to the coverage dedicated to national or provincial politics (alleged crack-smoking mayors aside). However, for all intents and purposes, municipally elected officials directly impact our lives on a day-to-day basis more than any other level of government. No more is this evident than when you open your tax bill, run over that pot-hole on your street, or attempt to build an extension on your house. And when it comes to development and getting your shovels in the ground, municipally elected officials hold the key to the garden shed.
Before you decide to develop your piece of land, there are many costs you need to know about. Whether you wish to sever a portion of your land to create a new lot or develop a 300 lot plan of subdivision, the cost to develop can be overwhelming.
The costs will depend largely on the type of development application – is it for an Official Plan Amendment, a rezoning, a plan of subdivision or a plan of condominium? It depends on the conditions of the site – does the site contain any significant wetlands, or is it home to an endangered species? What was the former use of the site? Does it contain any hazards? These factors determine the range of technical studies required as part of your development application. Municipal staff will review the studies and evaluate the suitability of the site for development. Lastly, the municipality in which you are developing also affects your cost, as application fees differ from municipality to municipality. The following is a list of the normal costs associated with development. Although this list is not exhaustive, it will give you a good sense of the cost of developing land.
Obtaining a License for a Pit or Quarry in Ontario: What to Expect
There are a number of areas in Ontario that are rich in aggregate deposits and bedrock formations. If you happen to own property within an area that has been identified as having aggregate potential you may be contemplating developing the land as a pit or quarry. There is certainly a high demand for aggregate materials of all types, and an active pit or quarry can be quite lucrative, depending on the product. However, there are many things to consider when pursuing a license to extract material under the Aggregate Resources Act.
Getting Your Development Approved – Step One: Pre-consultation
How important is Pre-consultation?
Prior to filing an application under the Planning Act, most municipalities now require applicants to attend a pre-consultation meeting. The purpose of a pre-consultation meeting is to clarify the details of the proposed development and to determine the studies and supporting documentation that will be required to accompany a complete application submission. However, is pre-consultation just another step in the already lengthy and strenuous planning process?