New zoning bylaw not complete

Councillors agree to another public meeting to receive more comments

By David Judd

Owners of seven residences on the bank of the Lynn River downtown are getting their wish from Norfolk County.
County council agreed last week that seven houses on River Drive, upstream from the bascule bridge, may be rebuilt if they’re destroyed by fire or flood.
The residences, some of which are more than 50 years old, sit among businesses on the short street on the east side of the Lynn.
County planners had proposed to divide River Drive into two zones.
Both zones would permit businesses.
But the zone closer to the bridge also would permit houses.
The zone farther from the bridge, where the seven residences are, said nothing about houses.
Which left the homeowners asking, “what about us?”
On April 15, county councillors voted unanimously to clarify that the seven residences are legal non-conforming uses so their owners will have the right to rebuild if disaster strikes.
Councillors also voted to have just one zone on River Drive — marine commercial — which would permit 16 types of businesses such as boat clubs, docks, fish processing, marinas, restaurants, marine craft and equipment sales and parking lots.
Residents’ spokesperson Meika Matthews said she was pleased with councillors’ decision.
“We weren’t asking for anything out of the ordinary,” she said in an interview.
“We just wanted what we basically have.”
Residents had a good argument, Port Dover Coun. John Wells said after the meeting.
Why treat neighbours differently? he asked.
Zoning should recognize houses that have been on River Drive for 50 years, he said.
County councillors’ decision about River Drive won’t take effect for a while, maybe quite a while.
Norfolk is updating zoning inherited from Haldimand-Norfolk Region in 2001.
It’s taken years to produce a third draft of a comprehensive zoning bylaw.
At Coun. Wells’ suggestion, councillors have agreed to hold another public meeting to receive comments.
Norfolk needs to get its new zoning bylaw as correct as it can, Coun. Wells said in an interview.
“If people want a say, they have waited 14 years,” he said. “Another year won’t make any difference.”
Consultant John Vallee, speaking on behalf of his Simcoe firm and the South Coast Business Coalition, urged the county to take more time to consult and review the proposed zoning bylaw.
Right now the proposed bylaw contains more exemptions than regulations, he told councillors on April 15.
“It’s not ready to be approved yet,” he said.

Posted: April 27, 2014