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Variances & Other PAC Applications

The Community Planning Act, Zoning By-laws, Subdivision By-laws , and Rural Plans provide standards on a wide variety of property issues.  The majority of property developments will satisfy these standards.  However, in certain instances there are circumstances peculiar to the property which prevent the owner from developing in a manner that meets all of the applicable standards.  In most of these instances it is possible to request a variance.

A variance provides relief from the specific requirements of the Zoning By-law in order to allow you to follow through with your proposal and to obtain a building permit.  Unlike a zoning amendment (rezoning), a variance does not change the existing By-law standard, but permits your specific development to proceed.   Once you have received approval of your requested variance, a building permit may be issued.

The Role of the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC)

The New Brunswick Community Planning Act (CPA) and certain provisions of zoning by-laws and regulations give authority to planning advisory committees to approve minor adjustments to building and zoning requirements.  More specifically, the Community Planning Act permits PAC’s to grant variances to zoning and subdivision requirements. These variances are granted if they are considered desirable for the development of land and are in keeping with the general intentions of the by-law and any municipal or rural plans.

The PAC may, when a zoning by-law or regulation, subdivision by-law or regulation, or a rural plan is enacted:

  1. Allow for a temporary period not exceeding one year, a development otherwise prohibited by the by-law; and order the termination or removal of the development at the end of this authorized period.
  2. Permit a proposed use of land or a building that is otherwise not permitted under the zoning by-law if, the proposed use is similar to or compatible with a use permitted in the by-law for the zone where the land or building is situated.
  3. Allow a reasonable variance from the requirements of the zoning by-law if it is desirable for the development of a parcel of land or a building and keeps with the intentions of the by-law or plan.
  4. Permit the construction of a building considered a non-conforming use, which has had at least half of it damaged.
  5. Allow a non-conforming use to be changed to a similar non-conforming use.
  6. The PAC may, subject to such terms and conditions as it sees fit, permit such reasonable variance from the requirements of the Subdivision By-law as is desirable for the development of land in accord with the general intent of the By-law and any plan, statement or scheme affecting the land; require that the subdivision plan include any terms and conditions attached to a variance permitted; withdraw any or all terms and conditions by resolution.

Examples of Variances

Here are some examples of standards that can be varied:

  • Minimum size and dimension of lots
  • Height, number of storeys, ground or floor area, and bulk of buildings
  • Percentage of land that may be built upon
  • The design, character and appearance of buildings and structures 
  • Depth, size or area of yards, parking areas and open space
  • Size, location and height of accessory buildings
  • Placement, height and type of fences, wall, and hedges
  • Types, dimensions and locations of means of driveway access to streets
  • Parking and loading facilities
  • Standards for commercial excavation
  • Location, dimensions, and purpose of signs
  • Setback of buildings in relation to sources of public water supply
  • Standards for development of subdivisions.

See Guide to PAC Applications