Langford council passes omnibus zoning amendment

New rules on minimum lot coverage, garage and carport distances, bottle return depot locations

The Omnibus No. 40 bylaw amendment recently approved by Langford council changes the city’s zoning bylaw No. 300 in many ways – as should be evident by its title.

It is definitely not as invasive or grand as the name suggests, however.

Zoning bylaw 300 is the city’s land-use regulation, which dictates how land development can occur, including parking requirements and landscaping regulations. It’s the bylaw people approach council to amend when they want to put additions on their houses, build swimming pools or change what their property is being used for.

It has been amended more than 400 times since its inception in 1999. This most recent alteration was more of a housekeeping amendment, though it will have a slight effect on future development requests.

“We do probably a half-dozen of these a year,” said city planning director Matthew Baldwin. “We just need to go into the bylaws every now and then and clean them up to do what needs to be done, outside of the process of dealing with specific applications.”

The amendment changes all references to “Bobcats” in the bylaw to “skid steer loaders” to remove brand names from the city’s legal documentation – “Bobcat” used to be like “Kleenex” or “Zamboni,” it’s a generic term for a small skid steer loader. As well, it decreases the minimum length of an off-street parking space (or driveway) to 5.5 metres from 5.8 m and increases building density requirements to 50 per cent of total land use.

The other main change restricts the locations of container refund depots, which, according to comments from city staff contained in the amendment proposal, “can be a significant noise-generating use when operated as a stand-alone facility, as opposed to as an accessory use within a liquor store.”

The amendment would restrict refund container return depots to outside C8 (Community Town Centre Pedestrian) and C8A (Community Town Centre Pedestrian A) zones within the municipality and instead restrict them to more commercial, business park and industrial zones.

Baldwin said there are currently no return depots operating within C8 or C8A zones, “and there haven’t been people clamouring to make any,” so they took the opportunity during one of these “housekeeping” amendments to reflect their vision for these areas and declare them free of these facilities.

“They’re just not compatible with what the zones are mostly about,” Baldwin said, noting it’s a mix of commercial and residential properties. In order to encourage that mix, it helps to have structured bylaws that will show people restrictions such as this one, so they aren’t worried about what could happen down the road, he added.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for March 2.

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