Woodstock’s municipal plan and zoning updates nearing final stages

by | Nov 17, 2023

Council sets public hearing date to give residents last chance to weigh in on zoning bylaws for all zones

“We’re at the cusp of the wrap-up stage,” said Dillon Consulting Jennifer Brown on Tuesday, Nov. 14, as she updated council about the town’s Municipal Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments.

Brown said two significant steps remain to complete the long-running process of updating land use in the expanded community.

She said the town’s Planning Advisory Committee will review the plans and offer recommendations or potential changes. Brown added Woodstock residents will have at least one more opportunity to provide feedback regarding the updated plan and zoning bylaw amendments.

Following Brown’s presentation, council approved Dec. 12 as the public hearing date.

Brown said residents, business owners, and developers had already shared their points of view on proposed changes, and time remained for more input.

“We’ve been having a lot of conversations with community members,” she said.

Brown added the public hearing will indicate if council is ready to proceed with final approval.

“If there’s hesitation at the public meeting,” she told council, “there’s time to hit the brakes and come back.”

As Brown stated in previous updates to council, she said the consultants and staff tried to avoid significant changes to land use, especially in the newly amalgamated areas of Wards 1, 2, 3, and 5.

While the plan recognizes the rural nature of much of the former local service districts, it tried to incorporate enough flexibility to allow the community to expand its residential and business sectors.

“It requires us to address, among other things, agriculture,” Brown said. “We’ll make sure everything is crystal clear in the plan.”

Unlike Woodstock’s former municipal plan, which covered only the town’s original limits of what is now Ward 4, the new municipal plan will face different types of land use.

“Pits, quarries and mines have to come through the town’s zoning process,” she explained, “but the province will continue to be the regulator.”

Brown acknowledged this type of land use can be controversial.

“Mining is always a little messy,” he said.

Brown said the municipal plan and zoning bylaws cover an extensive area “with a lot of it not zoned..”

She added heavy industry is not prevalent in the area at present, but “you have a lot of people knocking on the door.

Brown said the proposed new municipal plan identifies 15 zone types, up from 13 in the current plan. It includes six residential zones to provide more flexibility and three commercial zones.

The residential R1 zone allows one and two-unit residents.

R2 permits low-rise residential, which Brown explained would include three-storey multi-unit buildings.

R3 zones would encourage medium-density residential, and R4 would allow high-density residential structures.

The plan also calls for RR, rural residential, and MHP, mobile home parks.

“We’re looking to allow residential as widely as possible,” Brown said.

Brown explained the plan designated three types of commercial zones — Downtown Commercial Centre (DCC), General Commercial (GC) and Corridor Commercial (CC)

She explained that DCC primarily incorporates Main Street, from the bridge up the hill to the post office building and portions of King and Water Streets.

She said restrictions require ground floor units facing the streets to be commercial operations, but residential units are allowed on second floors and higher and at the back of the buildings.

Brown described CC as parts of Connell Street, housing big box stores and other commercial enterprises.

Brown, who credited Woodstock Development Officer Andrew Garnett for his essential role in helping develop the updated municipal plan, said the revised document tries to reflect the residents’ concerns.

“We want to be sure we follow through on what we told residents when we began this process,” Brown said.

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