The Site Planning process is designed to ensure that developments are constructed in a way that is aligned with the Municipality’s responsibility to provide services, plan for public safety and continue to guide our communities toward growth and prosperity. It is largely a review of the layout and functionality of a site from a technical perspective and therefore involves various departments within the Municipality as well as some external agencies such as the Ministry of Transportation or the Conservation Authority.
Site Planning is a tool used in Chatham-Kent when property is being developed to coordinate the developer’s needs as well as the interests of the community, and use of public resources. It is extremely valuable in implementing Chatham-Kent’s goals for continuous improvement towards being a welcoming, active and sustainable place to work and live. All of Chatham Kent’s specific goals are found in the Official Plan.
Site Plan Approval:
- Implements Chatham-Kent’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law
- Coordinates municipal servicing, public safety and compatibility of land uses
- Provides opportunities for being a healthier and progressive place
- Respects individual choice, style and budget
The Municipality strives for efficiency and transparency during the process so that development can occur without undue delays. It is therefore important that property owners with development projects become familiar with the site planning process and contact the Municipality early in the project to coordinate the review process.
What types of Development Require Site Plan Approval?
Site Plan Approval is required for a wide range of land uses including but not limited to:
• Multiple Residential
• Parking Lots
• Specialized Agriculture
• Agricultural Commercial and Industrial
• Commercial scale energy projects
Certain smaller scale development types are exempt from Site Plan Approval including:
- Single detached dwellings, duplex dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, and a garden suite, accessory buildings or accessory residential dwelling for these low density residential uses;
- Street townhouses with certain characteristics such as each unit fronting onto a street;
- (General agriculture uses and accessory buildings. The exemption does not apply to large- scale greenhouses, mushroom production facilities, or agriculture-related uses;
- Site alteration where the conversion of vegetated or bare soil areas to hard cover (gravel, paving, buildings) results in an increase of less than twenty percent (20%), calculated as the cumulative increase on the site since December 12, 2016;
- Additions to buildings or structures that do not exceed twenty percent (20%) of the existing building area, up to a maximum of 500 sq. m (cumulative since December 12, 2016);
- Underground storage tanks and septic systems;
- Tents, marquees, trailers and similar temporary structures to be erected for a period not exceeding 120 consecutive days;
- Buildings or structures, including additions for the purpose of enclosing, staircases, passageways, entrances, porches, verandahs, and mechanical equipment that is incidental to the main use;
- Buildings and structures used for flood control or conservation in conjunction with the Conservation Authority;
- Any addition required in order to comply with the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.
Who is going to review my Site Plan?
Initially you will meet with a Planner to discuss your proposed development and the site planning process. At this meeting the Planner will consider zoning compliance and inquire about servicing needs. Ideally you would bring some “first-draft “or concept plans and drawings to this meeting. This meeting is considered part of the pre-consultation process and is mandatory.
Pre-consultation continues with the Planner presenting your proposal with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which has representation from each municipal department. The Committee will determine what information you will need to include in your application for them to do an adequate review. This Committee meets once every week and following their meeting you will receive a summary that is specific to your project that you can use to prepare your application.
Once you’ve submitted a complete application, it will be reviewed by each department and any appropriate external agencies. The Planner will consolidate any questions or requests for revisions and communicate them to you. Following the revisions, a Planner will prepare a report to summarize your application and provide a recommendation to the Director of Planning Services or Council. The Director of Planning Services has approval authority for projects with an estimated construction cost of $2 Million or less; otherwise, Council is the approval authority.
How long will Site Plan Approval take?
Site Plan Approval is largely dependent on the complexity of the development, the completeness of the application, and the speed at which you can make any necessary revisions. If the project requires other planning applications as well, such as an Official Plan or Zoning Amendment to support a site plan application, then the applications can be reviewed and reported on at the same time. A building permit application can also be reviewed at the same time as a site plan application and a permit issued after the approval of your Site Plan.
Are there fees for Site Plan Approval?
The application fee for Site Plan Approval is set by the Municipality and may change from time to time. The current fee schedule can be found at www.chatham-kent.ca on the Planning Services page. In addition to the application fee, the Municipality may incur costs to review your application. For example, where a specific technical study is required to support an application, the Municipality may require a peer review of the study and the Municipality may not have the technical experts available in-house to undertake the peer review. These costs will be recovered from the developer.
Certain developments will require the Applicant to consult directly with external agencies prior to submitting a complete application. Fees associated with those consultations are NOT covered by the Municipal application fee.
Can I make changes to my Site Plan after it is approved?
Some minor changes can be done after an approval. The changes are referred to as an
“amendment’ and will need to be reviewed and approved by the Director of Planning Services. Amendments will only be allowed if:
- The changes to buildings and structures are minor and do not significantly change the location, size or height of them.
- The design and appearance of the development is relatively unchanged.
- The function of public infrastructure is not affected.
- The changes do not affect the Site Plan agreement or the wording of the conditions, and
- The changes do not create any change in the level of municipal services needed by the development.
Changes that will be permitted after an approval really must be minor or else a new application will be needed to evaluate the impact of the proposed changes. This would require a new application, application fee, and would very likely affect your ability to continue construction during the review of the changes proposed for the Site Plan.