By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Council took the first step in concluding Morinville’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) review process Mar. 13 by giving unanimous first reading to a new bylaw that has been in the works for the past year.
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. Tuesday night’s first reading puts the bylaw in motion to become municipal law, replacing Morinville’s almost decade-old existing Land Use Bylaw.
Morinville’s Director of Planning and Development, Greg Hoffman, told Council a great deal of work had gone into the bylaw review process. “It has relied on the expertise of the people preparing it. It has also relied on a broad survey of best practises,” Hoffman said, noting although the process took in a look at bylaws of comparative municipalities it was in no way a compilation of other bylaws. “It has come from a very thorough and comprehensive review.”
Many changes to document
The 179-page draft bylaw 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.
Hoffman explained the Land use Bylaw 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.
Hoffman said the allowance for secondary suites could create some affordable housing in Morinville, something he said the provincial government encourages. 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 proposed 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 draft to 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.
Mayor Bertschi said he was pleased to see some guidance regarding portable signs as he was looking forward to having bylaw speak to people about establishing permanent signs or removing the portable units from properties.
The complete draft bylaw with revisions and additions is available at www.morinville.ca/lub/. Now that first reading has passed, a public hearing must be held prior to second and third reading of the bylaw being passed. That public hearing is scheduled for Apr. 10 in Council Chambers.