Agricultural zone setbacks—Oct 12, 2010

There’s an update at the end of this post.

In her recent Richmond Review column, “Council to decide on the future of farmland,” Arzeena Hamir encouraged people to attend the Richmond City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 at City Hall. At that time, the whole council will consider a resolution from the planning committee meeting that gave rise to Arzeena’s column:

That Richmond Zoning Bylaw Amendment Bylaw 8609, to return to the previous regulatory framework of Zoning Bylaw 5300 which had no setback limitation from a constructed public road for accessory residential buildings, structures and septic fields in the Agriculture (AG) zone (Option 1), be introduced and given first reading.

The item is #14 on the Oct. 12 council agenda. If the narrowly passed resolution is ratified, it “allows hundreds of acres of prime farmland to become unviable.”

At least that’s Arzeena’s view, and for balance you might also wish to read a Richmond News article that cites more people on the other side of the issue. If you are in a mood for reading, you can treat yourself to the 22-page “Agriculture (AG) Zone Setback” staff report.

Citizens should be allowed to address council on the matter. The standard time limit is five minutes, and the opportunity normally occurs at the beginning of the meeting. Especially if you’re new to council meetings, it’s a good idea to let the City Clerk’s Office staff know you wish to speak. They will advise you in a way that can only add to your comfort and confidence.

Update to the Agricultural Zone Setbacks posts: At the Oct. 12 Richmond council meeting, it seemed from the various informed presentations by citizens that neither of the two alternative Ricmond Agricultural Zone bylaws is ideal in the longer term. It came out that the provincial government is preparing guidelines for matters like the setbacks of buildings on farmland (a factor in potential agricultural productivity). The chair of the Agricultural Advisory Committee and Richmond Farmer’s Institute stated that the newer alternative was a concern for legal reasons, and that seemed to be the deciding factor. Council voted to go back from the newer alternative, which Arzeena Hamir preferred, to the previous bylaw. I’m guessing that the topic will be looked at again when the provincial guidelines are ready, and my impression is that something better than either of the existing alternatives will emerge.

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