Bylaw review will change way neighbourhoods built

Maple Ridge new zoning for single-family homes requires less pavement.

Tuning up the old zoning bylaw isn’t at the top of everyone’s excitement list, but Maple Ridge’s new version will change neighbourhoods and the way they’re built.

Council heard Monday that regulations for solar roof panels, heat pumps and geothermal heating systems are part of the umbrella bylaw.

That doesn’t mean that new homes have to contain those features, but sets out standards if the builder wants to include them.

It also requires 30 per cent of a single family home lot to be landscaped and permeable, so that rainfall soaks into the soil and recharges groundwater – rather than pouring into the storm water system.

When it comes to the front yard, it calls for a ratio of 60 per cent.

Those numbers only apply to new single family homes, and they’re not set in stone.

When it comes to garages, they’ll be limited in area to 46 square metres.

Council can still change any of the new documents before approving the bylaw, which goes to a public meeting this spring.

Regulations requiring builders to use drought-resistant and native plants in multi-family homes and commercial developments is also a new part of the bylaw.

Manager of development and environmental services Chuck Goddard said many cities in the Lower Mainland are adopting similar laws in an attempt to make suburbs more sustainable.

The new policy doesn’t apply to existing homes and some of the numbers in the draft zoning bylaw still could change, he pointed out.

Cityscapes consultant Brent Elliott walked council through the new bylaw, which will also appear in an easier-to-read format.

New homes will have to more closely fit the contour of the local hills, as well. Roof heights could climb slightly, to about 11 metres for homes, which should reduce the number of applications for variances.

Coun. Al Hogarth had several questions about the bylaw and pointed out the new version only allows one unlicenced vehicle on a property, whereas it used to be two.

There was also no mention of accessibility requirements (for the disabled) or for allowing increases in density in return for a developer providing community amenities, such as a park, he pointed out.

Clothes lines are also allowed in the new bylaw.

The last major review of the zoning bylaw took place in 1985.