Our municipal and land use planning lawyers assist clients in stickhandling through complex rules and regulations to obtain the approvals necessary and maximize the use of their property.
Our Municipal and Land-Use Planning Law Group is Niagara’s largest and most experienced. Our lawyers advise municipal and private sector clients throughout the land use planning process from the initial concept, through municipal/regional approvals and at hearings before municipal/regional councils, tribunals and all levels of the courts.
Our clients include land owners, developers, municipalities, public interest groups and financial institutions. Our lawyers routinely appear before municipal/regional councils, the Ontario Municipal Board, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Environmental Review Board, the Assessment Review Board, as well as all levels of courts in Ontario.
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For severances or minor variances of the zoning by-law, the form is before the Municipality’s Committee of Adjustment. The Committee of Adjustment is typically made up of citizens appointed by the municipal council.
For a zoning by-law amendment and official plan amendments, which is typically when a development is of a larger scale, the form is before the elected council of the local municipality.
The process usually involves some form of pre-application consultation with staff at the municipality to address any preliminary issues or to gauge how the municipal staff will treat an application. For more difficult applications, a person may need to hire a land-use planner or other consultants. An application is then filed with the municipality which is circulated to the various commenting agencies. Public meetings are then held to allow them to comment on the proposal and the decision is ultimately made by the Committee of Adjustment or City Council. That decision can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.
At Sullivan Mahoney, we have several lawyers that appear in front of each of these bodies on a regular basis, with a proven track record of getting good results for our clients.
The Ontario Municipal Board is a Tribunal established by the Province. It deals with land-use matters. While predominantly dealing with planning matters, it also deals with matters such a s expropriations.
What is a hearing before the the Ontario Municipal Board like? While it is intended to be less formal than a typical court proceeding, it is still very formal. There is an appointed chair person that resides over the hearing and submissions are made by the parties involved, similar to a court room. There is a relaxation on some of the rules of procedure and rules on evidence.
The question it raises is whether a person needs to retain a lawyer to appear in front of the Ontario Municipal Board on an appeal. We suggest you do. Though some straightforward issues maybe dealt without a lawyer, we’ve had several clients that come see us after trying to do so on their own and there is little we can do without starting the process all over again.