Monday, October 15, 2012

New Official Plan Approved!

I was very pleased on October 4th when Regional Council approved the Town of Pelham’s new Official Plan. Our old plan – amended many, many times through the years – was originally approved in 1973!

What is an Official Plan? In general, an Official Plan (OP) describes a Town’s policies on how land in a community should be used. It is prepared with significant community input and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of a community. An OP explains the Town’s general land use planning policies; helps property owners understand how their land may be used now and in the future; helps decide where roads, watermains, sewers, parks and other services will be built; provides a framework for municipal zoning rules, like the size of lots and height of buildings; and provides ways to achieve local, regional and provincial interests.

In Pelham’s case, the new OP establishes a vision for the Town that strongly supports the protection of environmental features and agriculture and focuses future urban growth within the settlement areas of Fonthill and Fenwick. The hold-up recently has been to ensure that our OP would be consistent with recent Provincial and Regional plans – “Greenbelt Plan,” “Growth Plan,” “Provincial Policy Statement,” and Regional Policy Plan Amendments.

In Fonthill, future residential and employment growth will be accommodated primarily within the East Fonthill Secondary Plan area – the 450 acres along the west side of Rice Road from Regional Road 20 (RR20) to south of Merritt Road. This land could accommodate an additional 5,000 residents and jobs over the next 20 years. The OP also encourages residential intensification in the downtowns and through redevelopment in downtown transitional areas – along the north side of RR20 from Pelham to Station Street, and along the east-side of Station Street from RR20 to Pelham Town Square.  Since our Town contains hundreds of home-based businesses the OP also allows greater flexibility for live-work arrangements – commercial / office space downstairs, residential upstairs, for example – especially in the East Fonthill area.

In Fenwick, significant undeveloped urban land – along the west-side of Cream Street to Balfour from Welland to Memorial – could accommodate an additional 1,000 residents within the next 20 to 30 years.

Rest assured that the OP calls for new development in both of these areas to be sensitive to the surrounding character of the neighbourhoods and to embody high quality urban design.

I look forward in working together with you, Council, and staff as our community grows, evolves, and matures according to the vision in our new Official Plan.