Welcome to the Municipal Blog relating to the 5 Year Review of the Municpality of Meaford Official Plan. Please note that this blog is not intended to replace formal public consultation under the Planning Act but is instead meant to be a forum for information sharing on topics and ideas relating the review and community planning in general. Feel free to post comments or questions. Also be sure to visit the Municipal Webste (here) for additional information about the Official Plan Review.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Neat Tool: Site Plan Control

Thinking like a planner:

Let’s imagine you’re standing on a street in downtown Meaford …before you is a vacant piece of property that is zoned Downtown Core Commercial (C1) by our Zoning By-law.  The C1 zone allows for things like retail stores, accessory apartment units, restaurants etc…

As you look at the property I'd bet that you start to imagine the building that will go there…. How will it be placed on the property? Will the parking be in front of the building or behind it? What about lighting, driveways and landscaping? Will the property be paved or grassed? Will the building be too tall? What about the privacy of the neighboring houses? Will the building fit in with the surrounding buildings…will it be modern glass or historic brick? What about benches, bike racks and garbage cans?

If you’ve ever wondered any of these things, you’re thinking like a planner. It just so happens that asking such questions is a part of the site planning process.

A powerful tool:

Under the Planning Act, a municipality can apply Site Plan Control to properties in order to guide the way in which they are developed. The Zoning By-law says WHAT can go on a property; Site Plan Control decides HOW it goes there.

Copyright © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2008

There is a specified list of items that Council can address through Site Plan Control . For certain matters Council can even require a property owner to enter into a formal Agreement and provide financial securities to make sure they follow the plan that is agreed upon.

Historically, this tool was used to address mostly technical things…such as driveways, lighting, easements and garbage storage but with more recent amendments to the Planning Act this list has been expanded to include matters relating to exterior design, sustainable design and accessible design of the site.

In the Municipality of Meaford’s Official Plan, Council has identified that they intend to use this tool. They have set the basis for its use through the inclusion of Site Plan Control policies which identify the way in which we’d like to apply it. This section reads as follows:

“The intent of a Site Plan Agreement is to ensure that any proposed development is designed to be compatible with adjacent development, appropriately serviced and accessed and otherwise in conformity with the goals and strategic objectives of this Plan. Any required site plan agreement shall deal with the following, as appropriate:

a) road widenings;
b) location of vehicular access points;
c) loading, parking and driveway locations;
d) the surfacing of loading, parking and driveway areas;
e) the location and design of walkways and walkway ramps,
f) the location, massing and conceptual design of any buildings and structures;
g) the location and type of lighting and landscaping;
h) the location and type of garbage storage;
i) the location and nature of easements;
j) the grade and elevation of the land;
k) the type and location storm, surface and wastewater disposal facilities;
l) the location and type of snow removal facilities;
m) matters relating to exterior design, including the character, scale,
appearance and design features of buildings, and their sustainable design, within the Urban Area;
n) the sustainable design elements on any adjoining highway under a municipal jurisdiction, including trees, shrubs, hedges, plantings or other ground cover, permeable paving materials, street furniture, curb ramps, waste and recycling containers and bicycle parking facilities, within the Urban Area; and,
o) in site plan agreements for lands located within the Urban Area, drawings may be required for a building to be used for residential purposes containing less than twenty-five (25) dwelling units.

It is the intent of the Municipality to promote "good" urban design through the use of Urban Design Guidelines. Urban Design Guidelines will be developed and endorsed by Council for various urban land uses. Through the site plan approval process, developers will be expected to demonstrate how they are meeting the Guidelines and preferably, how they are exceeding the
As you can see, this is a very powerful tool in achieving a functional, attractive and sustainable built environment.

Related Links:

Meaford's Site Plan Review Page - Includes link to our Site Plan Control By-law

The image above was borrowed from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and is available here as part of an 'info-sheet'. 

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