City councillors have opened the door to more development in the rural parts of Greater Sudbury — but not before getting an earful from dozens of residents at a Monday night meeting.

"We are a distinct community encompassing a large northern area. What are the magic words? We want change!” said Azilda resident Nicole Richer to a round of applause.

The city’s planning committee voted to allow farmland to be split up into as many as six smaller lots, but that decision still needs to pass a vote of all Sudbury city council.

The policy change will also need the OK of the provincial government, Councillor Dave Kilgour pointed out.

But Kilgour added: "I commend you for being here tonight and I'm 100 per cent behind you. Don't get me wrong on that ... [but] don't quit now."

Land owners have long complained they can't divide a farm  among family members.

City councillor Evelyn Dutrisac has pushed for the changes for years.

"We don't live in a communist country, we live in a democratic country,” she said.

“And the people of our community should have a say."

The new rules for rural development would be part of Greater Sudbury's new official plan, expected to be finalized early in the new year.