Taller buildings allowed on farms, in cottage areas

Committee-of-adjustment bogged down with minor variances

Building heights in resort-residential areas such as Turkey Point and Long Point can be contentious. Norfolk’s committee-of-adjustment and Norfolk council agree that accessory building height restrictions in the agricultural zone and the resort-residential zone should rise by two metres each.

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A consensus is emerging that Norfolk’s height restrictions in the agricultural and resort-residential zones are too restrictive and need to be loosened.

There is demand in these areas for taller barns, drive sheds, boat houses and the like, a representative of Norfolk’s committee-of-adjustment told county council last week.

Linda Crandon said the committee-of-adjustment favours increasing accessory height limits in the zones in question. Council agreed and expects to set the process in motion at its regular meeting Sept. 17.

“The committee believes that – by increasing the height in these two zones – it will reduce the number of applications staff and the committee have to deal with,” Crandon said.

“It would also assist the public and the development community by reducing the time involved and the cost involved in processing applications by allowing these structures as of right.”

A report from the committee-of-adjustment says it transacted 156 applications last year. A total of 26 sought relief from the accessory building height limit.

By increasing the maximum to seven metres from five metres in resort-residential areas – which describes places like Turkey Point and Long Point – and from six metres to eight metres in the agricultural zone, the committee-of-adjustment will reduce the number of site visits its seven members and support staff have to make. It will also reduce the amount of time planning staff devote to minor variance applications.

Building heights in resort-residential areas can be contentious.

Lots in cottage areas tend to be small, placing buildings in close proximity to each other. Situating tall buildings next to squat buildings raises issues of sun blockage and shadowing.

Taller buildings can also make dense neighbourhoods feel claustrophobic. They may also be out of character with the neighbourhood and how it has evolved over the decades.

Taller buildings also mean more square footage for friends and family. This, in turn, gives rise to traffic and parking complications in areas served by narrow lanes that barely qualify as road allowances.