A complete overhaul of Nelson’s land use and zoning bylaw is ready for public review.
City planners have spent more than a decade revising the original 1987 bylaw, which regulates municipal development issues like land use, density, building size and off-street parking. It lays out the areas of town where commercial and mixed-use development can take place, how tall buildings can be in a neighbourhood, and how close to the property line houses can be built.
“This is not a small change,” Nelson’s development services manager David Wahn stressed at a council meeting this past Monday. “It is significant and applies to each and every property to some extent.”
Council decided to begin public consultation on the proposed bylaw. A public meeting is slated for Tuesday, October 22 at City Hall (310 Ward Street, second floor) from 6 to 9 p.m. Drafts of the bylaw have also been posted on the city website, and hard copies are available at City Hall and the Nelson Public Library.
Many of the changes to the bylaw are intended to reduce the number of property variance permits that come before council. The land setback requirements are reduced and lot coverage allowance increased on all residential properties, with added considerations given to narrow lots to encourage infill development.
“We’ve tried to set things at a level that variances won’t be required and staff won’t be recommending them, unless there’s an exceptional case,” city manager Kevin Cormack said.
To further encourage building density on existing lots, laneway houses will be permitted in most residential areas and all new construction in the downtown residential zone (between Silica and Latimer streets in Uphill) must be multi-family, either a multiplex or secondary suite-ready.
The number of different zoning categories have been significantly reduced under the new bylaw and there are also far fewer site-specific zones.
Other changes include a restriction on portable garages and other temporary shelters to only be allowed between the months of November to March, and off-street parking and loading requirements for businesses. There’s new fencing rule, lighting provisions and home business regulations.
None of these proposed changes would impact existing dwellings — non-conforming properties in the new zoning areas would be grandfathered in. But if you wanted to build an extension on your home or develop on a vacant lot, the new rules would apply.
A copy of the draft bylaw is available on the city website, nelson.ca, along with a zoning map and summary sheets on the changes being proposed for each zone.