Thursday, July 9, 2015

The creative use of Township of Langley zoning provisions

Tucked away just south of the Golden Ears Bridge is a small residential area in the Township of Langley. This neighbourhood is surrounded by industrial development on the north, west, and south.

The current lot sizes and general configuration of this neighbourhood dates back about 100 years. Even though the largest lot in the area is 17,000 sq. ft, for historic reasons the whole area is zoned RU-1. This zoning allows for two single family dwellings or mobile homes per lot. The RU-1 zone was envisioned for lots larger than 4.2 acres.

Residential area in Northwest Langley that is currently zoned RU-1.

One property owner in the area took advantage of this two dwelling provision and created a strata to allow the development of two dwelling on his lot. This didn't require a rezoning.

Another resident in the area presented this fact to Council last fall as a delegation. Council asked Township Staff to develop as report with options for the area.

Staff came back with a report saying that the RU-1 zoning isn’t the best fit for this area, noting that current municipal services and the community plan don’t support the densification of the area. There would be a cost to provide fully urban roads and services to this neighbourhood. Staff have presented Council with several options for the area.

Status Quo
Further strata development into 2 lots, based on existing regulations, resulting in increased population and no added community benefits in terms of servicing standards. Potential for 36 additional dwelling units.

2 Rezone to R-1A
More consistent with the area to the east. Provides for 1 dwelling unit per +/- 4,000 ft2 lot. 19 new lots may be created, based on area and frontage requirements. Must consider services & allowing mobile homes.

3 Rezone to permit fee simple s/d based on current strata density
Essentially a hybrid option with the density allowed under option; and rezoning process (including servicing) requirements of option 2. Approx. no. of new dwelling units, in theory, would be 36.

4 Rezone to maintain existing lot size, but with 1 dwelling per lot
Rezone to allow a minimum lot size of +/- 10,000 ft2, preventing the 2 unit strata developments, as well as possible subdivision potential of options 2 & 3. Would result in only 2 new additional lots being created.

5 Amend Zoning Bylaw to eliminate 2 dwelling unit allowance in RU-1
This option would amend the Zoning Bylaw to eliminate the provision of 2 dwelling units on a RU-1 lot, which is a historic provision in the Bylaw and likely to be opposed by residents across the municipality.

What I find really interesting about this case is that it shows there are areas in the Township where there is a disconnect between the zoning and intended land use. This isn’t out of the ordinary, but there are many historic and piecemeal provisions in the Township’s zoning bylaw. The zoning bylaw is a lengthy document; for example, the section dealing with the various residential zones is 41 pages long and the section dealing with rural zones is 26 pages long.

While a lengthy and possibly contentious process, it may be time for the Township considers reviewing its zoning bylaw to prevent further creative uses of zoning.

2 comments:

bardak said...

Can the municipality change the zoning against the will of the current property owner. Isn't that what is keeping Vancouver from stopping CP from using the arbutus track right now.

Nathan Pachal said...

Yes. And this is what protects the owner according to the Local Government Act

911 (1) If, at the time a bylaw under this Division is adopted,

(a) land, or a building or other structure, is lawfully used, and

(b) the use does not conform to the bylaw,

the use may be continued as a non-conforming use, but if the non-conforming use is discontinued for a continuous period of 6 months, any subsequent use of the land, building or other structure becomes subject to the bylaw.

The CP issue is different as Vancouver wants to buy the land from them.