Saint John zoning bylaw draft document

The City of Saint John is presenting its draft zoning bylaw to residents in a series of public meetings. (City of Saint John)

The City of Saint John's proposed new zoning bylaw, which will address rural lot sizes, parking issues and make it easier to add granny suites, will be open to public questions and comments at a series of information meetings in each ward.

The first of four ward meetings on the bylaw — which conforms with PlanSJ — was held in Ward 3 on Wednesday evening.

The proposed zoning bylaw would have the biggest impact for landowners in designated rural zones of the city, which encompass much of the city's land mass.

Under the changes, the minimum rural lot size for a new home will be 10 acres.

Also among the proposals, sweeping changes would allow developers in high-density areas like the Central Peninsula to provide fewer parking spaces and, in some cases, no parking at all, should they wish.              

"We want to remove that incentive for certainly taking down viable development buildings and putting up surface parking," said Jacqueline Hamilton, the city's commissioner of growth and development.

Plan Saint John facilitates transportation by providing bicycle lanes and transit, said Gerry Lowe, Ward 3 councillor.

"I think for years we made it too mandatory that you had X number of parking lots for housing … when there's other means of transportation," said Lowe.

Where parking lots are allowed, owners will be required to set aside some of their spaces for green areas.

That makes sense, said Don LeBlanc, a resident of Ward 3. As a real estate agent, he has a keen interest in changes to the way the city is allowed to develop in future. 

"I agree with cosmetically improving the parking areas. We have too many in the city proper now. So let's dress it up. I don't disagree with that," he said.

Granny suites and second units will also be encouraged in many cases under the proposed changes.

Members of the public will have until Nov. 29 to offer comments.

The next public meeting will take place Nov. 5 in Ward 1 at St. Marks United Church.