Minden Hills is in the process of amending its official plan (OP) and zoning bylaws, with a focus on increasing housing in the township.

During a public meeting June 29, planner Amanda Dougherty of contractor D.M. Wills Associates, said the purpose of the OP amendment “is primarily to introduce more robust policies with respect to additional residential units.” She noted the province recently updated its planning act to make it easier for townships to permit more homes.

Specifically for Minden Hills, Dougherty said the amendments would allow a maximum of two additional dwelling units on a property, provided they are accessed by a publicly-maintained road, comply with other laws, such as the Ontario Building Code and fire codes, have adequate parking, are consistent with the local character, and provide adequate servicing.

The units would not be permitted on waterfront, environmentally-sensitive, or within 300 meters of an at-capacity lake. The new rules would align with the shoreline preservation bylaw and that legal noncomplying structures can be rebuilt on the same footprint, without planning permission.

“Expansions may be permitted but not where a reduction to the established shoreline setback would result,” she added. Dougherty said new lots can front on either a County or township road. She noted they are also looking into not permitting lot creation within one kilometre of a settlement area boundary.

Much of the zoning bylaw changes are housekeeping items. There are, however, proposed revisions impacting waterfront developments. Open decks can project up to 3.5 m into water or front or rear yards, and home industry-home occupations will be allowed in ancillary buildings with restrictions.

Dougherty said they’d had two written comments about additional residential units, “generally in support of those changes that are suggested…”

Ian Clendening, a former Minden Hills town planner who now works in Kingston, but still owns land in Minden Hills, made a delegation. He said while supportive in principle of the amendments for additional residential units, as well as housekeeping, he was concerned with “glaring omissions, a lack of detail and ambiguity.”

Clendening added, “I just wanted to highlight some cursory comments that would be very alarming if the council did choose to approve it. I added further comments that were submitted electronically. I welcome you to make the choice that you feel is appropriate having regard to all information.”

Builder Gary Burtch spoke. He’s also addressed Dysart et al and Highland East meetings on the need for secondary housing units.

He thinks people should be allowed to put a secondary residence on a property if it’s large enough. It could be for an aging parent, Burtch said.

He accepts that new units can’t be created on waterfront lots but said there are plenty of properties across Minden Hills that could be ripe for this sort of development.

He told council he’s thinking of something small, between 800 and 1,200 sq. ft., adding he believes these units should be allowed to have their own septic and well systems installed.

The file is scheduled to return to the council’s July 27 meeting for a second public meeting. For more information, see the report on the Minden Hills council June 29 agenda.