Morinville passes Land Use Bylaw

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Council gave unanimous second and third reading to Morinville’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) Apr. 10, putting the seal of approval on a document that is the central document used by the Planning and Development Department as well as the Municipal Planning Commission.

The new bylaw replaces Morinville’s almost decade-old bylaw and came about in connection with the development of Morinville’s Municipal Sustainability Plan (MSP) and changes to the Municipal Development Plan (MDP). It was felt the LUB should be modified to come in line with the MSP and MDP. The LUB process began in March of 2011 and was brought before stakeholders and the public at an open house held Feb. 2 of this year. Apr. 10’s passing came after a public hearing on the document, a mandatory process that saw neither letters submitted on the matter nor any members of the public wishing to speak for or against the bylaw.

Morinville’s Director of Planning and Development, Greg Hofmann, brought some minor changes to Council prior to second and third reading. The only substantive change was the addition of a section to better streamline the approval process on development applications for minor alterations. The idea is to smooth the way when a request is made to alter an authorized development or building when that alteration does not change or have an effect on the approved use itself.
Although Council approved second and third reading, some members addressed their concerns on interpretations they had from the document. Councillor Lisa Holmes expressed concern regarding [arts of the document regarding portable signs that remain for greater than the permitted time. The mayor and some councillors have expressed concern about changeable signs that exist near sidewalks in Morinville, signs that seem to be more permanent than temporary. Hofmann told Council control of those signs actually falls under the jurisdiction of Morinville’s Traffic Bylaw rather than the LUB.

Many changes to document

The new Land Use Bylaw, in general terms, outlines how land can and cannot be used in Morinville and will continue to be the central document used by Planning and Development and the Municipal Planning Commission in determining developmental matters in the community. The LUB is used more on a day-to-day basis than any other document used by the Planning and Development Department and is a key document during an appeals process.

Rental suites would be allowed

Some of the changes affect home owners, others businesses.

Under the proposed bylaw, existing unauthorized rental suites in homes would be legalized and new secondary suites to be developed in existing and new homes would become a permitted use. Once permitted with the passing of the proposed bylaw, people with illegal secondary suites would need to procure building and development permits to ensure the rental units comply with building codes and other municipal bylaws.

Allowance for secondary suites could create some affordable housing in Morinville, something the provincial government encourages in communities. Some of the provisions include ensuring only one secondary suite would be allowed on a site to reduce activity on a property. Additionally, basement suites should be such that from the street the home would not look any different than a single occupancy home.

Easier access for home-based businesses

Another aspect of the new bylaw addresses people who conduct business from their homes. Under the proposed bylaw, people who conduct business at home with no clients knocking at the door could benefit from the addition of a home office classification to the bylaw.

Adult entertainment to be heavily controlled

On the business side of the equation provisions have been added to the LUB o allow for an adult entertainment establishment in Morinville. The purpose of including adult establishments (including strip clubs) in the new bylaw is not to encourage such businesses but to restrict exactly where one could and could not set up shop in town. Under the existing bylaw a strip club could petition to open as a drinking establishment, a type of business with more leeway than the proposed bylaw would allow for with respect to adult entertainment establishment. The new bylaw would restrict such businesses to the Business and industrial Park (BMP) land use district. Additionally, strict criteria on the business would apply. The business could be no larger than 3,000 square feet in size and would have to be at least 656 feet from the nearest residential district and 492 feet from the nearest recreational facility, school or day care facility. It would also have to be a minimum of 164 feet from a neighbouring adult entertainment establishment. Additionally, no exterior depictions of nudity or partial nudity would be permitted and windows would require sufficient shading to prevent visibility inside the business.

Other new provisions in the LUB address child care facilities and commercial schools, drive through establishments, and units where residents both live and work. The document provides clearer distinction on land use districts, parking provisions on various developments and regulations on signage. The latter includes pictorial references to enhance clarity on rules and regulations related to signage.

The complete bylaw with revisions and additions is available at www.morinville.ca/lub/.

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