Nobody would want the guy next door to open a slaughterhouse. Before land use control, neighbours had no say. Nowadays the neighbours, and the whole community, have lots of say – some think too much say.
Wherever you buy, and especially if you want to change the use of the property, take the time to assure yourself that your plans will be permitted under the local Land Use Controls.
In Eastern Ontario, there are generally two levels of Land Use Control:
1. Official Plans
Most senior municipal governments (Counties, Towns and Cities) have an ‘Official Plan’. Although it is not technically a law, the Official Plan sets the blue print for land use and future development. All local land use by-laws should comply with them.
It is a good idea to check the Official Plan for your area to see whether or not the powers that be have designated a future use that you would object to nearby. For instance, if the neighbour’s farm were to have proven mineral potential, that may restrict your right to build or subdivide.
2. Zoning By-Laws
Almost every local municipality has by now enacted Zoning or Restricted Area By-Laws. These detailed municipal laws will zone your property into a certain category, for example “Rural” and set out what uses are permitted within that area. The By-law will also provide for setbacks of any building from the road line and from your sidelines.
When you buy, you should know what Official Plan designation is on your property and you should know what zone the local By-laws put you into. If you are designated E.P. (Environmental Protection) or H (Hazard) either on your land or nearby, you are probably going to be subject to some pretty rigorous controls – Investigate further!
Local clerk-treasurers and building inspectors are usually pleased to discuss your plans with you. Give them a call.