Developers with what the Town of Sidney deems ‘significant’ building proposals will be encouraged to hold public information meetings before bringing their plans to town hall.
Councillors this week voted to formalize what only a few developers have been doing — holding community meetings to gauge people’s reactions to large projects before starting an official application process with the municipality. Most recently, proponents of the Cameo development at the corner of Third Street and Sidney Avenue (involving Star Cinema) held public open houses about their plans. As well, the company looking at redeveloping the Cedarwood Inn on Lochside Drive in Sidney, held a pubic meeting on their plans for multiple six-storey buildings.
The changes to the Town’s policy comes after the Sidney Community Association gave the municipality a list of ideas in the wake of increased resident angst over growth issues.
Now, under new rules that will be written into Sidney’s development permit guide, companies looking to make significant changes to a property would be asked to take their plan to the public. It’s only a recommendation, noted staff in a report to council, citing the difficulty the Town would have enforcing it.
Other changes to the municipal bylaw on land use procedures include: increasing the mail-out notification radius from 75 metres to 100 for proposed zoning and official community plan amendments; adding a notice of new (major) development application step in the downtown commercial core; increasing fees associated with public hearings - including advertising; and posting more information on the town’s website.
All notices of new development applications will be posted to the Town’s website, expanding their existing notices web page.
As for the designation “significant development proposals,” that would apply to new buildings or major renovations (regardless of the number of storeys) in the Town’s main commercial zones, bounded by Sidney Avenue and James White Boulevard in the north, Oakville Avenue to the south, the waterfront in the east and the portion of Victoria Airport Authority land in the west that is being eyed for the proposed Sidney Crossing commercial development. The latter project, staff note, is under the jurisdiction of the Airport Authority, not the Town.
This designation does not apply to areas of Town zoned for multi-family residential homes.
The recommendations passed unanimously, but Councillor Tim Chad warned council that such changes will add workload to municipal staff, and that could mean Sidney needs more staff to keep up — and that would means more tax dollars to pay for them.