Where do I start?
When planning to start, grow or change your business, the easiest way to avoid potential problems is to consult with the planning staff at your local municipality before making any commitments. They will give you a brief explanation of the development limits and requirements for the property you are dealing with.
Occasionally, business owners or managers will have to apply to the municipality for changes [such as rezoning] or exceptions [a variance] to local by-laws to accommodate the plans they have for their business or property. Rezonings and variences are two of the most common applications made to municipalities.
The Planning Advisory Committee [PAC] is the group of appointed community members that help to manage land use and have specific approval authority. These volunteers meet on a regular basis to evaluate applications.
Municipal staff [usually an Engineer or Planner] are responsible for the day-to-day administration of these by-laws, including applications for rezoning and variances.
Municipal Council appoints PAC members and, in some cases, approves decisions or recommendations made by the staff or PAC.
The Zoning By-law in your community outlines the permitted land uses and development standards for the different areas in your municipality. If you are proposing a different use for your property that does not fit within the range described in the by-law, you will be required to obtain a rezoning before starting. There is usually an application fee, paid whether or not the rezoning is granted. The process for rezoning is public and takes six to eight weeks and a minimum of three months if a municipal plan amendment is required to support the rezoning.
Variances are required when your proposed use fits within the zoning structure, but does not fit one [or more] of the development standards. For example, your building plans call for a sign erected 6 metres from the ground when 4.5 is the by-law maximum. Following a meeting with municipal staff, the application is forwarded to PAC along with a recommendation from staff. PAC then approves [sometimes with conditions] or denies the application. This process is public, and will take several weeks.
David Taylor, Development Officer
Information on this page was provided by Enterprise Saint John.