A board outside the Committee of Adjustment hearing room with the staff reports for public viewing. Credit: Joey Coleman

Joey’s Note: Committee of Adjustment minor variance files are unpredictable. The public notices provide no context to the legalese of variances. It is hard to predict what will files will be debated, or not. Below are files that have uniqueness to them, or that staff are opposing the variances.

The August 10, 2023, Committee of Adjustment meeting will consider 19 minor variance applications. Here are some that caught my attention.

18 Tom Street, Hamilton, Ward 1

The property owner is seeking to “legalize the constructure of a shed” in front of their property.

Zoning bylaws prohibit sheds in front of homes, stating they must be in the rear yard. The shed “appears” to have been constructed within the City right-of-way.

Additionally, the shed replaces landscaping in front of the house.

For these reasons, City staff recommend denying the application.

18 Chilton Place, Hamilton, Ward 2

The owners are seeking to build a rear garage at a height of 5.96 metres. The maximum permitted height for a garage is 4.0 metres. They also seek a zero metre (no) setback from the rear lot line instead of the required 0.45 metre setback.

City staff oppose the height increase, recommending denial of this variance.

The drawings for the proposed garage show a second level labelled “storage.” The upper level will have three windows.

Questions may be raised about the potential of the upper level being used for other purposes.

The owner submitted letters of support from neighbouring properties.

512 Bay Street North, Hamilton, Ward 2

The new owners of this property are seeking to demolish and replace the existing home on the site with a new larger house that will include a secondary dwelling unit.

The house is at the north end of Bay Street North across from Pier 4 Park in the North End neighbourhood.

Residents of the North End are known for their engagement on planning matters. This is no exception.

This file has an added element, the trees and hedges in the public park across the street were illegally cut last year, with suspicion the cut was related to the sale of this home.

Tweets from 2022 when public lands were illegally cut at the top of Pier 4 park.

Neighbours are concerned about height, large windows, the size of the house on the lot, and the variances to lower setback requirements.

The application is now tabled for further negotiation. Staff comments were not released prior to tabling.

845 King Street East, Hamilton, Ward 3

City staff support the conversion of commercial units at 845 King Street East into ground-level residential units.

845 King Street East was home to a long-time business, Kool Stuff, that had operated for 17 years in the location. The building was sold, the new owners doubled the commercial rent, and Kool Stuff had to close.

The owners will now have three more profitable residential units on the ground level.

“The proposed variance would allow for the conversion of the existing ground floor commercial units to residential dwelling units. Staff note that there is no planned commercial function along this portion of King Street East and that the intent of the TOC 3 Zone is to recognizes the residential nature of sections of the LRT corridor and the need to maintain these areas for residential purposes in the future. The TOC 3 Zones does not permit commercial uses. Accordingly, the proposed variance to facilitate the conversion to residential units brings the property more in line with the intent of both the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law,” reads staff comments.

[Committee of Adjustment staff comments are unsigned.]

417 Highway 8, Stoney Creek, Ward 10


Render of a proposed four-storey mixed-use building at 417 Highway 8 in Stoney Creek

A mid-rise proposal is seeking zoning approvals by minor variance along the Highway 8 corridor where many mid-to-higher density developers are occurring.

The land is zoned for commercial uses, the developer is seeking to rezone (without a zoning bylaw amendment application) to convert to residential use with some ground-level commercial.

City staff oppose the application. The Neighbourhood Commercial (C2) Zone allows 50 percent of gross floor area to be residential, the proposed development is a 70 percent residential use.

“The applicant is asking for a 40% increase to the maximum permitted ratio of gross floor area for residential, thus not minor. This is not the intention of the zone and thus the applicant should apply for a Zoning By-law amendment if they would like to have an increased number of residential units on the subject lands,” reads staff comments.[Committee of Adjustment staff comments are unsigned.]

City staff are inconsistent in using percentages to determine what is, or is not, minor.

A few years ago, staff have recommended a 33-storey tall building as a “minor variance” in zonings that only permit six storeys.

341 & 347 Fiddlers Green Road, Ancaster, Ward 12

This application is to sever portions of two larger lots to create a new lot. The applicant wishes to build a new single detached home on the new lot.

City staff oppose stating the application should be a zoning bylaw amendment.

Staff write the owner submitted concepts to have more houses on the site in 2022.

“The Formal Consultation application FC-22-104 was to sever the subject property and proposed one of two options: (Option 1) create 4 lots for single detached dwellings or (Option 2) create 7 lots, 6 for semi-detached dwellings and one for a single detached dwelling. Staff determined a Zoning By-law Amendment to be necessary for both proposals. No formal submissions were made by the owner or applicant.”

The Ancaster Existing Residential Zone is one of Hamilton’s most restrictive, regarding minimum lot sizes of 695 square metres.

“The intent of the provision within the Zoning By-law is to ensure the lots within the Existing Residential Zone maintain the lot pattern and large lot area to support a building envelope and contain grading and drainage on the lot.”

“Having regard for the matters under subsection 51(24) of the Planning Act, staff are of the opinion that the dimensions and shapes of the proposed lots are not compatible with the existing scale and character of the surrounding area and the proposed lots do not conform to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law. Staff recommend that the proposed consents, as outlined in the Notices of Hearing, be denied.”

795 Book Road West, Ancaster, Ward 12

This is an application to build “a single detached dwelling, an accessory structure and accessory pool house” on a rural property in the Greenbelt.

Staff are opposing the application stating it is incompatible with the Rural Hamilton Official Plan, “may result in the disturbance of trees within the Significant Woodlot,” and the proposed structures are too large for the rural area.

2575 Regional Road 56, Glanbrook, Ward 11

The application is to had an addition detached dwelling unit. Additional dwelling units are not permitted in the C5a pedestrian oriented commercial corridor zone.

Staff are opposing the application for this reaosn.

161 Concession 10 East, Flamborough, Ward 15

“The applicant is seeking a variance to allow a farm labour residence to exist prior to the principle farm dwelling, whereas the Zoning By-law outlines that a farm labour residence shall only be permitted on the same lot as an existing permanent farm dwelling,” write staff to open their comments recommending denial of the application.

1268 Highway 6, Flamborough, Ward 15

The property contains a dwelling with a second storey addition. Staff write the addition was “constructed without a permit.”

The property’s existing setback is closer to the provincial highway right-of-way than the minimum in the zoning bylaw.

The original building, heavily modified over the decades, was constructed between 1868 to 1900.

Staff recommend approval of variances. The Ministry of Transportation does not object to approval.

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