Mono continues effort to tame rural ‘Monster Homes’

December 7, 2023   ·   1 Comments


Mono may be nearing the end stage of drafting amendments to manage “Monster Homes” in the municipality.

Part of that process was a statutory public meeting on Nov. 28 to delve into a draft amendment to the town’s Official Plan and an amendment to a zoning bylaw to better manage larger homes on rural lots. It was part of a process that began in May 2021.

Devising drafts of the amendments began in October 2022.

“It has had a bit of a journey since last year,” said David Trotman, the town’s planning director.

He asked that council hold off on making a motion to adopt the drafts in their current form since further edits may be required.

“If you read the two amendments, as I said none of what I do is rocket science, but things can get a bit technical and tricky,” he said. “Sometimes contentious. This may be one of those matters.”

Council reviewed a planning report in October 2022 about large houses on rural lots. The report contained a draft Official Plan amendment. As part of the discussion, council asked that either the Official Plan and/or zoning bylaw be modified to include specific measures and dimensions of new houses in relation to their rural residential lot size.

Trotman was directed to have a statutory public meeting to get comments from the general public and interested stakeholders about the draft amendments.

“In Mono, there is a strong connection amongst its citizenry for protection of its unique rural character, epitomized by the phrase ‘The Rolling Hills of Mono,'” according to a planning report forwarded to council.

“Protection and preservation of the rural community character is paramount among Mono residents, but this is broadly true for many smaller municipalities.”

Concerns about overly large homes in the rural area include the scale of the structures, the increased frequency with which they’re being built, the rural neighbourhood’s sensitivity concerns, and disproportional lot coverage to lot area. That refers to the lot coverage to floor area ratio.

Draft amendments would have to address appropriate setbacks, the size of a house relative to its lot frontage and lot area, and the loss of arable farming lands.

A Monster Home’s impact on natural heritage features or their hydrogeological functions has to be considered, such as potable water demand imposed by swimming pools, outdoor water features, and multiple bathrooms.

And, of course, the cumulative adverse changes to the rural character wrought by such large homes.

“Presently, lot coverage is one provision used with various zones to control maximum buildable footprint areas relative to lot size,” according to the staff report.

“Present lot coverage provisions provide suitable flexibility to ensure rural uses, particularly farming operations, have sufficient scope for their needs.”

Trotman said some public feedback has centred on the length of driveways. A longer driveway means greater privacy for rural residential homes.

“The difficult part is going to be crafting a final zoning bylaw amendment because of its regulation context,” he said.

Changes to the Official Plan will be policy-based, he said.

“What we have is fairly good,” Trotman said of the Official Plan draft changes.

Karen Rosenbrock, a former town councillor, is a landscape architect. She said it’s very complex in Mono to put a simple template on a house, and there’s much to consider when setting a standard of conformity.

“It’s been my experience that lots in Mono come in all different shapes and sizes,” she said. “I’ve seen lots (that) in order to accommodate a driveway entrance, a lot might have a super long frontage but almost no depth.”

Rosenbrock said there are residents in Mono with all sorts of hobbies. There are people with private airstrips on their properties. There are people with swimming pools and Olympic-sized equestrian facilities. Some people have tennis courts on their lot. Many factors need to be considered, like if the home is a single-family dwelling or a multi-generational abode.

“These things all require an innovative use of the land,” she said. “And also it involves security, involves privacy. So putting all development up close to the road isn’t always the answer.”

Resident Signe Ball suggested the notion of “climate load” should be emphasized in writing the amendments.

“I have nothing to base this on, but my guess is that a lot of the largest homes, that a significant proportion of the largest homes are not fulltime residents,” Ball said. “(The homes) are vacant a lot of the year. Probably winter, largely. And they are being heated and so on through that time.”

Deputy Mayor Fred Nix said many houses in Mono would likely not meet zoning requirements in the current draft.

“I’m guessing at that,” Nix said. “I don’t know that for a fact.”

He wondered what options are available to a homeowner who wants to build a garage or an addition to a house that’s already met the maximum allowable size for the lot.

“We made revisions to the accessory structures provisions in our zoning bylaw,” Trotman said. “Those parameters still apply with respect to accessory buildings of a non-farm nature.”

Readers Comments (1)

  1. D. Mueller says:

    It is apparent that the town planing director Trotman has obviously not been proactive in all the years he has been at the township to foresee the arrival of mega homes being just north of Brampton with its constituency.
    Case in point # 674525 Hurontario st
    8000 square home with water. Consumption to boot.


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