Alberton invites input on zoning changes for group homes

Peggy Revell

Alberton has scheduled a public meeting for next Wednesday (June 23) concerning proposed changes to its zoning bylaw concerning the establishment of group homes within the township.
Set for 7 p.m. in council chambers at the municipal office, the meeting will give residents the chance to learn more about the proposed changes as well as give council feedback.
“It’s more expanded,” Alberton Reeve Mike Hammond said about the proposed bylaw to amend Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw #2002-39, which comes almost a year after the township began reviewing its zoning bylaw pertaining to group homes after Weechi-it-te-win Family Services sought to relocate its Training and Learning Centre (TLC) there from Watten Township.
“Before it was rural residential,” he noted. “We expanded it to residential and rural residential.
“It’s down in black and white, it’s not generic—now it’s nailed down,” Reeve Hammond stressed.
“Before it was just sitting there, it could go either way.”
While the proposed changes to the zoning bylaw don’t disallow a group home from being established in Alberton, it does outline certain criteria that must be met before one could be established in a rural and rural residential area.
Some of these proposed changes include:
•Site plan control shall apply to the group home and crisis centre uses in order to ensure the size, scale, and appearance of such facilities are compatible with, and integrate seamlessly with, existing residential structures and uses in the neighbourhood in which the facility is proposed to be located;
•Group home and crisis centre uses shall be permitted only where it can be demonstrated that such a use can be undertaken without any adverse long-term impact to the environment, to neighbouring properties, and to the rural character of the neighbourhood in which such a facility is proposed to be located; and
•Group home and crisis centre uses shall be permitted only where it can be demonstrated that there is a need for same to be established in the township in order to serve present and future residents of the regional market area, as same is defined in and governed by the provincial policy statement, in which the township is located.
The issue first arose last summer when Alberton resident Gayle Arpin requested a zoning bylaw amendment that would have seen a portion of her land located along Highway 11/71 re-zoned from “business park” to “institutional.”
If the bylaw amendment had gone through, Weechi-it-te-win planned to purchase the property for the TLC’s new site.
Alberton council eventually voted down the re-zoning request in August, based on concerns the proposed use of the land did not sufficiently conform to the township’s official plan and the intentions behind the “business park” zoning currently in place there.
As well, council had noted at the time there was “a clear mandate from the constituents [that were present]” that a significant portion of Alberton residents did not want a group home of any kind in their township.
At that time, it also was noted that under the existing zoning bylaw, an organization wanting to establish a group home potentially could purchase land zoned as “Rural Residential,” and a group home could be established on the land without council having any say in the matter.
With this in mind, Alberton council passed a resolution and interim control bylaw that prevented the “establishment or operation of a group home” on any land designated as “Rural Residential”—which would be in effect for a year—while they investigated whether or not “the group home use can be legally eliminated from the zoning bylaw” and “whether the most appropriate means of resolving issues with the group home use is to eliminate it as a permitted use or to modify and/or impose conditions related to the use,” as well as several other “planning and legal issues” related to the same.
An appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) by a handful residents over this interim bylaw was dismissed back in April of this year.
Changes to the zoning bylaw being proposed at next Wednesday’s meeting are the result of the planning report put together over the past year.
The complete planning report and background information, as well as the proposed draft bylaw, are available online at the township’s website——or by contacting the municipal office.
Oral submissions at the public meeting, or written statements submitted prior to the bylaw being passed by council, are required if a person or public body wishes to appeal council’s decision to the OMB.
As well, if no submission is made, a person or public body may not be added as a party to the hearing of an appeal before the OMB—unless the OMB decides there are reasonable grounds to do so.