The Zoning By-law establishes and regulates the use of land by implementing the policies of the City's Official Plan. It provides the City with a way to co-ordinate land uses, protect areas by preventing incompatible uses, and establish appropriate standards for development. The Zoning By-law contains specific legal regulations; for example: what uses are permitted, how high buildings can be built, how close buildings can be built to lot boundaries, the maximum number of residential units allowed, and the amount of off-street parking required.
The City is divided into "zones", where different land uses are permitted. There are zones for example, which permit single detached dwellings, apartment buildings, shopping centres, industrial uses, or parks. In the older or developed areas of Sarnia most of the lands are zoned for specific uses or ranges of uses commonly found in an urban municipality. In undeveloped parts of the City, land is often in an interim use zone which does not allow urban development, unless an amendment to the Zoning By-law is approved.
Application and Approval Process For Amendments
The process for amending the Zoning By-law is as follows:
1. Consult with Planning Staff:
Before you submit your application, discuss your plans with one of the Department planners to confirm whether a Zoning By-law amendment and/or other planning or engineering approvals are necessary.
2. Complete the application, including the following:
- A cheque made payable to the City of Sarnia for the application fee (variable fee structure);
- If you are using an agent or solicitor, your written authorization identifying by name the individual who will be your agent or solicitor; and
- In some cases, additional information could be helpful in assessing an application; you are encouraged to submit plans, photographs or other relevant documentation.
3. Notice of Public Hearing and Circulation of Application:
A notice specifying the date, time and location of the public meeting is sent to all assessed property owners within 120 metres (400 feet) of the property and is advertised in the Civic Corner section of the Sarnia Observer at least 14 days before the date of the public meeting.
A letter outlining the requested amendment is sent by the Planning Department to relevant municipal departments and public agencies for comment.
4. Public Meeting and Decision Making Process:
The public meeting will normally be held within 35 days of receiving your application. It is very important that you and/or your agent or solicitor attend the meeting to explain your application and answer any questions that Council may have. Other interested persons are also entitled to attend and to express their views about the application. Council will also consider verbal advice and a written report from the Planning Department. Council normally makes a decision on the application at the public meeting.
5. Adoption of Amending By-law:
If Council approves the application, an implementing Zoning By-law amendment is usually passed by Council at the following City Council meeting.
6. Notice of Decision:
A notice is sent to all assessed property owners within 120m (400 feet) of the property and is advertised in the Sarnia Observer, advising of the passing (adoption) of the Zoning By-law amendment. A 20 day appeal period begins when notice of passing is given.
7. When Decision is Final and Binding:
If no appeals are filed with the City Clerk, the Zoning By-law amendment comes into effect on the day it was passed.