MODL invites public to comment on future communities

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>MODL held two open houses in its council chambers on November 1, as part of its plan to seek public input on a future subdivision bylaw.</p>

Residents of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) have the opportunity to help shape the future of subdivisions in the area.

MODL has launched a review of its Subdivision Bylaw and Infrastructure Design Standards and is inviting the public to comment on everything from private roads to bicycle paths, and gutters to landscaping.

The municipality kicked off the public consultation component of the review on November 1 with two open houses at the council chambers on Aberdeen Road in Bridgewater and an online survey available on www.modl.ca, which runs from November 1 to November 15.

Paper surveys are also available at the administration offices.

"The bylaw is probably long overdue to be reviewed," said Jeff Merrill, MODL's director of planning and development services. The current by-law was established 18 years ago.

"Things have changed over the years," said Merrill, citing impact from climate change and increased interest in active living transportation components to communities as examples.

Council included the review among its latest strategic priorities and hired the Halifax urban planning and design studio Upland to oversee the public consultation process and propose revisions to the bylaw.

Upland is the same company MODL employed to direct its approach to public access to Sherbrooke Lake.

Merrill says that over the years council has heard a number of concerns about private roads.

"When people buy property, maybe they don't understand exactly what's involved with living on a private road, that there's maintenance that has to be done to that private road."

As well, residents may be frustrated by the quality of private roads they have, he added.

According to information at the open house, 21 per cent or 326 kilometres of the roads in the municipality are private, with the remainder provincial (1,236 km or 78 per cent) and municipal (10 km or one per cent).

There's more to the bylaw review than private roads, however.

"This is more about when communities get developed or subdivided, how should that happen?" says Merrill. "For example, on public roads the travel surfaces has to be so wide, the right of way has to be so wide. What are those standards?"

Merrill said among the other issues are landscaping and treescaping and guttering.

"So we would look at the whole spectrum of infrastructure and say do we need to have different types of infrastructure standards for different types of development?"

For the purposes of the bylaw, a subdivision is the division of any area of land into two or more parcels, and can include a re-subdivision and/or consolidation of two or more parcels.

For new neighborhoods, the bylaw regulates how land can be subdivided and how roads and services, such as water, sanitary, and public spaces, should be designed and provided.

Steffan Käubler, a planner and urban designer with Upland, suggests, "Ideas about how we build communities have changed."

Designers now look to build "healthy communities," creating infrastructure to enable people to walk and bike in their communities, he said.

According to Merrill, MODL is looking to have a draft revision to the bylaw for consideration by council by the end of January. There will be further opportunity for public input before it goes to second reading sometime in the spring, he noted.

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