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Planning FAQs

What is Zoning? What is a Zoning By-law?

What is a Zoning Amendment?

How do I change the zoning on my property?

How do I apply for a Minor Variance?

What is a Committee of Adjustment?

What is a zoning compliance letter and how can I get one?

What is an Official Plan?

What is an Official Plan Amendment?

What is Site Plan Control?

What is the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)?

What is the Provincial Policies Statement?

What is Zoning? What is a Zoning By-law?

Zoning is a planning land use mechanism that dictates how a property can be developed. Municipalities control the zoning of land through the creation of a Zoning By-law. A Zoning By-law states what is and is not permitted on specific properties in regard to uses permitted, setbacks from property lines, parking requirements, building restrictions and more. A Zoning By-law enacts the designations and policies set out under the United Counties Official Plan. Zoning By-laws can restrict development on a specific property (eg. Flood Plain, Hazardous Slopes, Provincially Significant Wetlands). However, a property owner can apply for a zoning amendment if their development is going to deviate from the existing zoning requirements for their subject property.

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What is a Zoning Amendment?

A zoning amendment is necessary when the zoning requirements for a specific development cannot be met or for a change to the permitted uses. An amendment is necessary to rezone a property in order to allow for a change in use on the property or to change zoning requirements to allow development on the property to be in conformity with the by-law.

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How do I change the zoning on my property?

An application for a zoning amendment must be completed in order to start the amendment process. The timing for processing an amendment is regulated by the Ontario Planning Act. Planning staff must review and prepare a Zoning By-law amendment, notices and signs, planning report and a public meeting within 120 days of the application being submitted. Notice of the public meeting must be given to property owners within 120 metres and a notice of public meeting is posted on the subject property. The decision on the zoning amendment is made by Township Council following the public meeting. Decisions can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

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What is a Minor Variance?

A minor variance goes through a similar process as a zoning amendment. Minor variances differ as they do not seek to change the use of the property. Rather, it seeks relief from specific requirements of the Zoning By-law such as setbacks, parking requirements, lot size requirements to name a few.

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How do I apply for a Minor Variance?

An application must be submitted to the Township in order to start the minor variance process. Under the Planning Act, planning staff must put together a planning report, prepare a recommendation for the Committee of Adjustment and hold a public meeting within 30 days of the application being submitted. Notice for a minor variance is given to adjacent land owners within 60 metres and a public meeting notice is posted on the subject property. Minor variances are heard before the Committee of Adjustment, who then make a decision on the variance. Decisions made by the Committee of Adjustment can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

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What is a Committee of Adjustment?

The Committee of Adjustment (appointed by Council) meets on an as needed basis to hear and decide on minor variance applications. The committee is comprised of five members, however, only three members are present at a meeting. The committee reviews the minor variance application and planning report and makes a decision based upon the information provided. Decisions of the committee can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. The Committee of Adjustment uses the following criteria (known as the four tests) to make a decision on a variance application:

1. The variance is minor;

2. The variance is desirable and appropriate;

3. The variance conforms to the Official Plan and;

4. The variance conforms to the Provincial Policy Statement.

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What is a zoning compliance letter and how can I get one?

A zoning compliance letter is written letter of confirmation of a land use, building or structure on a specific property. Compliance letters can also be obtained to determine if there are any outstanding work orders or violations against a property and other applicable requirements. In order to request a compliance letter, contact the Planning and Building Department. Fees are applicable.

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What is an Official Plan?

An Official Plan is a planning document that provides a long range outlook for growth and development. North Dundas does not have its own Official Plan; rather, it relies on the upper tier Official Plan. The Official Plan for The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry provides direction for land use planning over the next twenty years. The Official Plan is used to designate land within the County (including North Dundas). Zoning By-laws must reflect the intention and designations set out in the County Official Plan.

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What is an Official Plan Amendment?

The Official Plan can be amended in order to change a designation or restriction on a specific property as well as to change, replace, add or delete an Official Plan policy. The amendment is subjected to notice, a public meeting and decisions are made by the United Counties Council. Official Plan amendment decisions can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

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What is Site Plan Control?

Site Plan Control is a development control mechanism used for commercial, industrial and multi-residential developments as prescribed under Section 41 of the Planning Act. The Site Plan Control process ensures that the appropriate measures are put in place to reduce any potential impacts on surrounding land uses. Site Plan Control regulates various aspects of the development and design process such as setbacks, landscaping and buffering, road access, drainage, signage and many other details.

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What is the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)?

The Ontario Municipal Board is an independent administrative tribunal whose responsibility is to hear appeals and provide a decision on contentious municipal issues. The planning process has a built in appeals mechanism through the public consultation process. The Planning Act describes who can appeal a decision to the OMB and the time frame in which they can do so. Decisions made by the OMB are final. An administrative fee applies.

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What is the Provincial Policies Statement?

The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) provides direction in matters of land use planning that are directly related to Provincial interests.  Its policies set out the government’s land use vision for how we settle our landscape, create our built environment, and manage our land and resources over the long term to achieve livable and resilient communities. All decisions affecting land use planning matters “shall be consistent with” the Provincial Policy Statement.

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