The County & The Planning Process
At present, the County is circulated development applications in accordance with the Planning Act of Ontario, and notice is received in accordance with the required time period prior to the public meeting. This approach provides the County the opportunity to comment.
If the proposed development impacts on one of the below listed County interests it would be appropriate for a Municipal Staff person to advise the applicant to consult with County Staff prior to submitting their development application. The policies of the County may significantly impact the proposed development. This would provide Staff at the County the opportunity to review the application and obtain information directly from the applicant.
Road Issues - Impacts of Additional Traffic
All development proposals, especially large developments, have the potential to significantly impact the flow and safe movement of traffic on County Roads. Traffic generated by new development impacts County Roads even if it does not have direct frontage on a County Road, and improvements are often required to safely accommodate the additional traffic.
To determine the level of impact a development may have the County may require the completion and implementation of a Traffic Impact Study. A Traffic Impact Study is a study undertaken by a qualified engineer that estimates the volume of traffic generated by a development proposal and adds it to traffic already moving around the site. Future volumes are also taken into account by determining an accepted level of anticipated growth in volume around the site (usually a % per year).
Based on the addition of these volumes, the necessary road improvements can be determined to safely accommodate the proposed uses at present and in the future. The cost for undertaking such studies vary with the scale of development proposed. The developer is required to pay for the study and the necessary road improvements required as a result of the study.
The determination of the need for a Traffic Impact Study is at the discretion of the County Transportation and Engineering Department. The need for such a study varies with the nature and location of the development proposal.
This information is also useful to the local municipality. For example, for a Secondary Plan Area, a Traffic Impact Study can be used to determine the costs associated with road improvements necessary to accommodate new development. This can be used to determine an area specific development charge to ensure the cost of improvements are covered by the new development that generates the need for them. Furthermore, at the time of development road widening may only be required that is recognized in the policies of an Official Plan. This information could be included in the Official Plan/Amendment or Secondary Plan.
Site and Access Design
A site plan (diagram showing proposed buildings, structures, parking spaces, driveway, etc.) is requested by the County for development abutting a County Road due to the significant impacts a poorly designed traffic movement pattern can have on a County Road. Adequate parking spaces, stacking lanes and flow of traffic on site are all essential to avoid vehicles waiting to enter a site and obstructing the flow of traffic on the County Road.
The County also has a by-law that regulates the location of buildings and structures along County Roads. The setback and location requirements are generally different from those included in municipal zoning by-laws. To eliminate confusion, and to clarify matters for the public, the County is now working toward the inclusion of County standards within municipal by-laws.
The County will also request the submission of a drainage plan. This is necessary to ensure that grading changes to the property will not negatively impact the County Road.
Access restrictions have been developed to maintain the arterial function of County Roads. For example, access is limited, access separation distances, access sight distances, sight triangle and distances from intersections are matters of concern when development is proposed on a County Road. These requirements, and others, are outlined in the County Roads Policy.
Waste Disposal Site Issues
Waste disposal facilities are governed by the Environmental Protection Act through the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). The Municipal Act assigns the authority to operate and control waste management activities to the County of Simcoe. Development in the immediate vicinity of a waste disposal site is a concern with respect to compatibility (traffic, noise, pests, etc.) and environmental concerns (groundwater contamination, leakage of methane gas, odour etc.).
Section 4.9 of the County Official Plan requires that development being located in close proximity to waste management sites be reviewed in detail with respect to potential impacts to the landfill activities and the potential impacts to the use and enjoyment of a property.
To ensure such matters are reviewed appropriately the County of Simcoe has adopted the standards of the Ministry of the Environment referred to as Guideline D4 - Land Use on or Near Landfills and Dumps. This Guideline outlines all matters that need to be considered when developing on or near such sites. Where such sites are the responsibility of the County of Simcoe, the County will review and approve the study and implementation methods. Where such sites are privately owned, it is up to the approval authority of the development application to review the study and approve the implementation methods.
Application forms and information regarding D4 (Assessment Area) Guidelines and study requirements can be found on the D4 Information webpage.
County Land Owner/Forestry Issues
The County is a land owner and has the same rights with respect to planning matters as any other owner of land. The intent is to protect such lands from incompatible uses and maintain the forests as viable for forestry management practices such as selective cutting, and to maintain the biological health of the forest. Depending on the nature of development proposed, the County may require such things as buffers adjacent to the forest, or fencing along the property line. To date issues of this nature have not arisen. For additional information please visit the County Forests webpage.