Chilliwack council is worried large estates like this one in Ladner threaten local agricultural land.

Chilliwack council is worried large estates like this one in Ladner threaten local agricultural land.

One-size-fits-all farm home plate bylaw for Chilliwack sent back for changes

The proposed rules meant to discourage monster homes in the ALR and to protect Chilliwack's agricultural land base

The Farm Home Plate bylaw was referred back to staff by Chilliwack council for some retooling Tuesday at city hall.

The new rules were geared to discouraging monster homes in the ALR, where the siting of a new farm house goes too far back from the road, with driveways meandering through the heart of a property, or expansive lawns and landscaping that waste otherwise arable farmland.

Coun. Chris Kloot put the motion on the floor to refer the bylaw back to staff, with Coun. Sue Attrill seconding.

“I’m concerned about the one-size-fits-all approach,” Kloot said, after recognizing how much work had been put into the draft bylaw and public consultation efforts.

“The challenge is to find a balance.”

He said it might be more “prudent” to look at the Farm Home Plate rules in terms of policy, rather than a bylaw amendment.

Coun. Sam Waddington wanted to see the new regs go forward as drafted, saying owners could apply for a variance if need be. He voted against referral back to staff, while Coun. Chuck Stam was in favour of referral.

“There are all kinds of considerations when a farmer is siting a home,” Stam said, such as drainage issues in the front section, or L-shaped properties for example.

“Smaller agricultural parcels are especially affected by large setbacks,” the staff report stated, “as a large portion of land is taken by residential home plate uses, including principle and secondary dwellings, tennis courts, swimming pools, garages, and landscaped gardens.

“In some cases, houses are set back as far as 150 metres to over 400 metres from the road, with residential home plates ranging from two to three acres in size.”

Part of the reason for the proposed bylaw is the increased pressure on agricultural land from regional growth, and the need to protect the city’s agricultural land base.

Staff looked at options that would limit the size and location of the farm home plate. They would apply to all ALR parcels on the valley floor and would institute maximum setbacks, and establish maximum coverages (2,000 square meters for a principal residence, for example). They would apply to new construction only.

with files from Greg Knill, Chilliwack Progress