TRURO - Zoning changes made last week by Colchester County council will now enable residential owners living within commercially zoned areas to make improvements to their properties.
And that is nothing short of good news to homeowners such as Judy Pronger of Valley, who has experienced difficulty while trying to sell her home because of the previous zoning restrictions.
"I'm glad now that if I want to do anything with my house or my yard, I will be able to," she said. "It will probably make a big difference. It probably won't be as hard to sell."
In 2002, the municipality created new regulations that applied to the county's suburban growth zone that included the communities of Bible Hill, Valley, Salmon River, Hilden, Lower Truro/Truro Heights and the surrounding rural areas to identify where new commercial and residential development should occur.
The commercial areas were established at prominent locations in each growth centre where businesses might be interested in locating, typically along collector streets that offer high visibility and good traffic flow.
The problem for homeowners such as Prodger, however, was that restrictions placed in the commercially zoned areas, severely limited what could be done on such properties from an improvement standpoint (i.e. expanding the size of a residence) or rebuilding should the residence be destroyed by fire or some other means.
The restrictions also created insurance issues, which in turn impacted the potential for selling residential properties within a commercial zone.
"When we looked at the pattern of changes in our commercial zones, some have changed over to (strictly) commercial faster than others," county planner Pam MacIntosh told council. "We haven't had a lot of activity in the C3 zone (where Prodger lives)."
The changes made to those zones, however, will allow existing residents to make improvements to their properties and to also permit new, low-density residential use.
"What was previously non-conforming is now conforming," CAO Ramesh Ummat said.