County staff crafting home industry bylaw for Puslinch

PUSLINCH – Wellington County and Puslinch Township staff are closing in on final amendments to a zoning bylaw relating to home industries after a statutory public meeting on March 23.

Zach Prince, a planner with the county, said a public meeting last December identified concerns with the bylaw and staff has done some rewording.

Those concerns centre on outdoor storage, employee parking, noise from equipment, toxic chemicals, and work where employees congregate at the site in the morning and then move off-site for the work, such as landscaping companies.

Home businesses are defined as businesses that operate inside the main dwelling and they have zoning bylaws that regulate them.

Home industries are business that operate from an accessory building on a residential property.

“The intent of the bylaw is to have no impact on the surrounding area and residents,” Prince said.

Some of the proposed changes that came out of public consultation include:

  • establishing a minimum lot size – the bylaw proposes a minimum of one hectare (2.5 acres);
  • setbacks of 30 metres (about 100 feet);
  • requiring a permit for vehicles that regularly access the business (such as employee vehicles or business vehicles); and
  • requiring the home industry to entirely occupy the accessory structure.

Businesses that are not allowed to operate as home industries include restaurants, animal clinics, warehouses, sale or storage of vehicles, outdoor storage, and kennels.

There are different bylaws that regulate those kinds of businesses.

Eight or so people attended the virtual meeting and three asked questions of staff.

Marc Reid, vice president of the Wellington Federation of Agriculture, wanted to ensure the home industry bylaw would not impede farm operations or farm uses of accessory building and asked for clarity in the language.

Puslinch resident Cathy White wanted clarity on the definition of “small scale.”

“They are always small in the eye of the beholder. But businesses start small and then they grow,” she said.

White noted the bylaw is complaint-based, “and I don’t want to be the neighbour who has to complain.”

Resident Barclay Nap spoke in favour of home industries in general, naming several that started in accessory buildings or in homes and have grown enough to move into commercial space.

“Home industries start out slowly and expand,” he said.

“I think the bylaw, if it’s too restrictive, it may discourage someone wanting to start a business.”

Planning staff will compile the comments and rework the bylaw and present a draft bylaw to council at a future date.