Commercial components explained...Site Planning for your Commercial Project

Planning a commercial project involves numerous steps to ensure your project follows through to completion. Whether building a new commercial facility, expanding an existing operation or renovating a current non-commercially zoned facility to a commercial operation, the site planning process can seem like an endless pile of paperwork and regulatory approvals.

Having assistance navigating through the process is essential to ensure you receive the necessary approvals for your commercial project within a reasonable amount of time. This includes understanding of zoning and building uses, providing the necessary documentation to satisfy the local Municipality’s or Township’s requirements and receiving site plan and permit approval on your project. Before you can consider submitting a building permit application on your intended project, you must complete the Site Plan Control process to ensure your project will have the required approval from the planning department. Though the process may diff er slightly from Township to Township and the number of regulatory authorities may increase or decrease dependent on the lands surrounding the proposed site, the overall process is similar.

Initially, determining the zoning for the proposed site provides the groundwork to know exactly what will be required to gain the necessary approvals. Depending on what the land is currently zoned, accommodating your proposed operation may require a Zoning Amendment. The Zoning Amendment process provides the opportunity to change or extend the current zoning of the property to reflect the intended use. The process begins by completing the required application as well as a schematic layout of the proposed area to be amended. This, together with the amendment processing fee will complete the application from which a public notice will be established. In time, this will be presented before council for approval. With the multitude of classifications available, finding the applicable zoning classification that will provide the most pliable classification can help clarify the site plan approval requirements and inevitably determine the design of your operation.

The Site Plan Control process occurs once the required zoning change of the property is completed. The process consists of completing a site plan control application, providing the fee, completing a site plan, completing a servicing/drainage plan, designing storm water management and possibly completing a landscaping plan. Depending on the location of the lot and additional third-party jurisdiction, additional studies, reports and permits may be required to complete this process. Some examples would include reports or studies from Conservation Authorities, Traffic Study Analysts, Environmental Impact Assessors and Provincial Ministries. Generally, when all of the required components are completed for the Site Plan Control Submission, all relevant plans and documentation are submitted to the Planning Department as well as any third party agency (Fire Department, Conservation Authorities, etc.) for circulation and review. After the initial review by all relevant parties, comments will be provided to the Project Engineer and client which form the basis for the secondary submission. This submission process continues between the Owner and Township until all requirements have been satisfied and overall approval on the documents and plans has been obtained.

Though the process may appear overwhelming, having the assistance of an engineer can make this process less confusing and can help ensure your project planning will start out on the right foot by meeting the Planning Department’s requirements, but to pave the way for continued building permit approval.

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