Land Use Services
The powers and responsibilities of the FRSC with respect to land use planning and building services, are outlined under the Regional Service Delivery Act (sections 24 & 25) and the Community Planning Act. Currently, the FRSC provides land use planning and building services to the Village of St. Martins and the unincorporated areas (LSDs and Parishes) of Petersville, Westfield East & West, Musquash, Greenwich, Kingston, Simonds, Fairfield, Rothesay, and Saint Martins.
These services include:
- Issuing building and development permits;
- Inspection of new development, buildings or construction;
- Development and administration of Rural Plans;
- Processing land use applications and approving subdivisions; and
- Providing planning, building, and development support and advice to the general public, community stakeholders, the Planning Review Advisory Committee, various provincial departments, and the Minister of Environment & Local Government.
Land Use Planning Within the FRSC
In New Brunswick, land use planning is guided by the Community Planning Act and accomplished through such land use tools as Municipal Plans, Zoning By-laws, Rural Plans, and Basic Planning Statements. These land use planning documents provide long-range strategic planning that incorporates economic, social and environmental development of communities and guidelines for development control.
The FRSC offers professional planning support to rural communities in a number of ways. FRSC planning staff work with communities to manage land use change through the development of Rural Plans. Developing a Rural Plan is a participatory process that gives communities, residents, and stakeholders the opportunity to promote local values and accomplish local goals.
Without the direction or guidelines of a Rural Plan, a community has little control over its future development. Lack of planning can result in conflicts between neighboring land uses, inappropriate development, loss of rural character, destruction of habitat, and contamination of surface and groundwater.
FRSC planning staff continue to assist communities and residents, by ensuring development proposals comply with the goals and standards set out in their Rural Plan. The majority of proposed developments will satisfy a Plan’s goals and standards. However, if a proposed development does not meet development standards or does not comply with zoning requirements, changes can be proposed by making an application to the FRSC to Amend, Rezone, Vary, or Adjust the requirements of the Rural Plan.
Legal Non-Conforming Uses
A land use that does not conform to the zoning requirements of a Rural Plan but existed before the Rural Plan was adopted, are referred to as ‘Legal Non-Conforming Uses’ or as being ‘grandfathered’. Special provisions under the Community Planning Act help protect these types of situations. Non-conforming or grandfathered uses are typically permitted to continue unless the use is discontinued for 10 consecutive months or over half the structure has been destroyed. You may make an Application to the FRSC to obtain PRAC approval if you wish to change, expand, or replace a non-conforming use. Please contact a Development Officer for help proceeding with the Application.
Amendment or Rezoning
If a landowner wishes to use or develop their land in a manner that does not comply with the present zoning of a Rural Plan, an Amendment or Rezoning Application may be submitted to the Planning Director of FRSC. However, the decision to approve or deny an amendment to a Rural Plan is the responsibility of the Minister of Environment & Local Government.
When an application is made to adjust the zoning of a piece of property or establish a new use, planning staff will evaluate the proposed development to ensure it is in keeping with the intent of the policies of the Rural Plan and provide recommendations. The Local Service District Advisory Committee (LSDAC) and the PRAC also provide comments and recommendations regarding the application.
An amendment or rezoning application also consists of a public hearing process that provides local residents with the opportunity to formally voice their views on the proposed development and change to the Rural Plan. The Minister only makes the decision to approve or deny the proposed Rural Plan amendment after reviewing all recommendations and comments received from FRSC planning staff, provincial planning staff, the LSDAC, the PRAC, and community residents.
It is important to discuss any development proposal with FRSC planning staff before applying for a Rezoning in order to obtain information and advice on proceeding with the application. Please note, obtaining Ministerial approval for an Amendment or Rezoning can take up to 6 months.
Variance and Adjustments
A landowner can also apply to the FRSC for a Variance, a Similar to or Compatible with Use, or a Temporary Use if their proposal cannot meet certain development standards outlined in the Rural Plan. These adjustments are usually relatively minor and comply with the intentions of the Rural Plan. Variance and Adjustment Applications do not require Ministerial approval; rather the decision is the responsibility of the PRAC. However, Development Officers with FRSC have the authority to approve minor variances from zoning requirements if they are considered desirable for the development of land, building or structure and are in keeping with the general intentions of the Rural Plan. Please note, obtaining approval for a Variance or Adjustment Application may take up to 2 months.
Examples of Variances (Development standards that may be varied):
- Minimum size and dimension of lots;
- Percentage of land that may be built upon;
- Size and location of accessory buildings;
- Types, dimensions and locations of means of driveway access to streets; or
- Standards for development of subdivisions.
It is important to discuss any development proposal with FRSC planning staff before applying for a Variance in order to obtain information and advice on proceeding with the application.
A Similar To or Compatible With use may be applied for if a proposed use is not one that is permitted in that designated zone but is similar to or compatible with one of the permitted uses listed for that zone.
A Temporary Use may be granted if the use is only for a short period of time and is deemed appropriate by the PRAC. The PRAC may authorize a Temporary Use Permit for a development otherwise prohibited by the Rural Plan for a period not exceeding one year, and for an additional period not exceeding one year if an application has been made to amend the applicable Rural Plan.
It is important to discuss any development proposal with FRSC planning staff before applying for an Adjustment in order to obtain information and advice on proceeding with the application.