Council passes business-friendly amendments to Land Use Bylaw

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – A number of amendments to Morinville’s Land Use Bylaw passed unanimous second and majority third reading during the June 28 council meeting.

The amendments address a variety of issues that currently affect Morinville’s residential and commercial property owners and include development permit and appeal provisions, enforcement provisions, corner fences, deck projections, amenity areas, site access, sign provisions and clarity on home occupations for small businesses.

The bylaw also amends some districts in town. The vacant land between Morinville Community High School and Aspen House, currently a combination of C1 (primary downtown commercial use) and Semi-Public will now be designated C2, opening the vacant lands to automotive and equipment repair shops, automotive and minor RV sales, auto body shops, gas stations, veterinary clinics and hospitals. Theatres, in the Land Use Bylaw since 2003, were originally confined to Commercial Corridor (CC) districts. Amendments to the bylaw would now allow theatres in C1 (Primary Commercial) districts.

Good News For Home-Based Businesses

The amendments also contain good news for home-based businesses. Under Morinville’s previous bylaw, there was no provision for utility trailers. Amendments brought to light largely because of the appearance of local business owners Mark and Shelly Damon at the bylaw’s June 14 public hearing, provided additional information to Morinville’s Planning and Development department. Utility trailers are now specifically dealt with in the bylaw and permissible in a major home occupation designation.

Additionally, the requirement for additional parking has been relaxed in the bylaw. Previously, an additional parking space was required regardless of the type or scope of the business. Under the new bylaw, an additional parking space would only be required for major home occupations – that space used for an employee, client or utility trailer. All single-family dwellings in Morinville are required to have two parking spaces – many of Morinville’s homes have more.

Added to the bylaw Tuesday night was some clarification on signage. Under the previous bylaw, signs were not permitted on residential or commercial fences. Greg Hoffman, Morinville’s Director of Planning and Development, said the week leading up to St. Jean Baptiste Festival brought the issue of signage to light. Under the previous bylaw, all signs would be prohibited, including no trespassing, beware of dog and special event signs.

“The festival particularly pointed out the signs that were out were contrary to the bylaw,” Hoffman said, noting the then existing bylaw seemed excessive. “I think the word might be Draconian.”

The new general sign regulations makes exceptions for regulatory, warning and notice signs provided they do not exceed 1.6 square feet in area. Real Estate signs were exempted in both past and current bylaws.

Mayor Lloyd Bertschi commended Hoffman and his department on taking steps to make Morinville more accommodating to home-based businesses.

“It’s good you and your department are working to have some flexibility for businesses that are trying to get off the ground,” Bertschi said.

The amended bylaw passed second reading with a unanimous vote. Third reading received a 5-2 vote, Councillors Nicole Boutestein and Lisa Holmes casting opposing votes after raising questions on the urgency of re-designating the vacant land between Aspen House and Morinville Community High School.

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