Sooke zoning bylaw tweaked

  • Jun. 8, 2011 12:00 p.m.

A pair of consultants addressed Sooke District Council’s Committee of the Whole on May 30 following up on a similar visit paid on March 21.

Chris Hall and Bev Suderman of Island Planning Services Consortium came equipped with the latest version of a new zoning bylaw for the district, one which has seen modifications relating to the previously stated wishes of council members.

Sooke’s latest Official Community Plan, adopted May 17, 2010 was several years in the making and the new zoning bylaw is the method by which the district’s vision can be put into reality.

The major decision arrived at by the C.O.W. that evening involved the desire to broaden the scope of recession plane regulations. Recession planes deal with how views are affected by construction, vegetation, etc.

The rules deal mostly with water views and had been formed for the town core area.

“Why restrict this kind of deal to the downtown core?” asked Coun. Ron Dumont.

It was agreed that the terms be amended to include all waterfront areas in the district.

Parking was another issue dealt with briefly at the meeting, and it was decided not to alter the parking provisions in the draft document.

As far as lot sizes are concerned the group agreed to recommend that each zone have its own minimum frontage requirement, and it was accepted that accommodation for lots of irregular size and shape could be dealt with in a variance process.

Coun. Dave Bennett made some points about the noise bylaw, and parts of the bylaw that may not be specific enough for certain situations, particularly in regard to home based businesses.

He mentioned how machinery and its use may be covered under the bylaw, but not necessarily a loud stereo the home business person may enjoy while they work.

The councillor heard from staff that such scenarios would be dealt with at the discretion of the bylaw enforcement officer.

Coun. Dumont pointed to an imminent need for cemetery expansion and asked about land acquision for that purpose. He heard from Bev Suderman that such a use would be permitted under the bylaw.

Sooke staff members had made the consultants aware of the need for a fresh bylaw. It was felt the existing bylaw had:

• Too many sections, in the wrong order;

• Too many zones;

• Unclear direction with regard to parking, secondary suites, and other matters;

• Conflict between building code standards and what the zoning allows;

• Issues around accessory buildings and secondary suites;

• Weak or vague definitions (i.e. fencing, grade), and

• Lack of internal consistency.

The Duncan-based consultants took those concerns to heart in crafting Zoning Bylaw 2011 (Bylaw No. 500).

The 171-page document was the lone item on the May 30 agenda.

“Our contract started with the District of Sooke in November 2010,” stated Bev Suderman by email on June 3, “so this project has gone extremely quickly, given the amount of work that has needed to be done.”

Suderman was responding to a couple of questions, the other related to any interesting or unique facets of the process involved in the project with the local municipality.

“It’s been a great project so far,” she continued.

“Zoning Bylaws are extremely technical and complicated regulatory documents that work in tandem with policy documents (such as the OCP) and development permit guidelines. We have really appreciated how the community, council members, and staff have rallied together to put their best thinking as to how to bring the regulation into alignment with the vision.”

A certain amount of work and procedure remains before the bylaw is adopted, and, toward the end of the May 30 meeting Mayor Janet Evans said it looked doubtful that the bylaw “would make its timeline for adoption before summer.”

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