Lincoln looks to address development application processing, approval times

In response to a new provincial bill, which will see municipalities have to refund fees when development applications aren’t processed in a timely manner, Lincoln is implementing changes to the way it does some of its business. “Once the clock starts ticking in these developments and applications, we are really constrained in terms of timing,” said Matt Bruder, Lincoln’s director of planning and development. During Lincoln’s Feb. 27 committee of the whole meeting, town staff highlighted efforts to implement various recommendations to reduce its planning application processes and associated application fee refunds in response to Bill 109. More power was granted to the director of planning and development, including site-plan approval and the extension of draft approval. The goal is to speed up the process while maintaining opportunities for public input and quality staff review. Staff will be presenting recommendations for process revisions for implementation in the near future.

With the new bill, for zoning bylaw amendment applications, if the processing time surpasses 90 days, a 50 per cent application fee refund would be required. Exceeding 180 days would require a 100 per cent application fee refund.

A site-plan application surpassing 60 days would require a 50 per cent application fee refund while exceeding 120 days would require a 100 per cent application fee refund.

Additionally, a new zoning bylaw is currently being developed, and its approval will protect pre-zoned lands in accordance with the official plan or secondary plan designations.

Reducing the overall approval time frame is also on the town’s to-do list, as lands only require site-plan approval unless a small change is required.

The new zoning bylaw will also include provisions for secondary dwelling units, which will allow the creation of additional housing units in town.

Lincoln is also looking into ways to encourage the development of affordable housing units through its community improvement plan incentives. These efforts aim to show the town’s commitment to expanding the efficiency of its planning application processes while ensuring opportunities for feedback from residents and stakeholders are kept. The introduction of Bill 109 accompanies the provinces More Homes for Everyone plan, released on March 30, 2022. The plan outlines policies and initiatives to increase the housing supply, protect homebuyers and address market speculation in the province.

Bill 109 aims to improve various statutes regarding housing and development. It suggests changes to key statutes, such as Development Charges Act, the New Home Construction Licensing Act, the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and the Planning Act.

It received royal assent in April 2022, but its implementation date has been delayed to July 2023.

, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News