By Tristan Marks
Urban intensification and agriculture zoning dominated much of the conversation at the Town of Lincoln’s Zoning Bylaw Review.
The Public Information Session (PIS) was hosted at the Fleming Centre on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
Members of the public who came to the PIS heard town staff present the progress and direction of the upcoming zoning bylaw update. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with members of the staff.
The bylaw review followed three major themes:
1. Official Plan compliance: Any new zoning bylaw has to properly follow and implement the Town of Lincoln’s Official Plan passed last year, such as introducing a new zoning type for mixed residential/commercial land use.
2. Other policy issues: Includes anything not found in the Official Plan, such as short-term accommodation (i.e. Airbnb) that according to consultant, Greg Bender, were “not considered in the Town’s Official Plan,” but are “much more prevalent now.”
3. Core zoning issues: This includes important requirements for any sort of land-use such as car and bike parking among others.
Bender also said that the staff and consultants want to emphasize readability and use-friendly bylaw design.
“It will hopefully be easier to read,” he said. “We’re looking at adding visual examples to help remove any ambiguity.”
The meeting did not, however, address Lincoln’s on-going cannabis issue. Bender explained that the cannabis bylaw had “been extracted” from the comprehensive zoning bylaw review so it could be addressed separately and timely by council.
“We felt it would overshadow everything we’re here to talk about,” explained Bender.
One issue the staff hopes to address in the new bylaw is that of secondary housing. Secondary housing would potentially allow property owners within certain residential zoning types to build or maintain a second housing structure on their land.
During the question period, many of the gathered residents asked what effect the bylaw would have on urban intensification in Lincoln. Lincoln associate director of Planning and Development, Matt Bruder said there “absolutely will be” pressure to expand urban boundaries in the town. However, he and Bender pointed out that such a change would be beyond the scope of a bylaw review, and even beyond the jurisdiction of the town.
“The region generally sets growth targets for towns,” explained Bruder.
Ted Lizak was among the locals present at the PIS. As a long time member of West Niagara’s agriculture community, he said that the town’s current agricultural boundaries make no sense to him.
“What upsets me is that you have people designating agricultural zones who know nothing about agriculture,” he said. “Whoever decided these boundaries didn’t look at soil quality or anything, they just looked down on a map and drew a line.”
He argued that the Town should expand the boundaries of Beamsville, saying that areas of soil there are substandard for agricultural use. He suggested this might prevent the Town’s urban area from getting too crowded and too intense with building concentration.
However much staffers considered or agreed with these suggestions, they maintained that the zoning bylaw has little in the way of affecting the issue.
On a related matter, another resident asked why the presentation did not seem to address the Greenbelt.
Bender explained the zoning bylaw will not have to address the Greenbelt specifically, since it will be based on the Official Plan, which does address it.
The Town aims to have finalized its comprehensive zoning bylaw this summer. Another open house is slated for spring. Those with concerns or inquiries can call town hall, 905-563-8205, or email email@example.com