• John Jantak

St. Lazare resident still waiting for municipal PIIA approval for standalone garage


St. Lazare resident Robert Hainz said the constraints of the town’s site planning and architectural integration programme (PIIA) has turned a simple project to build a standalone garage on his property into a nightmare.

A project to build an environmentally-friendly standalone garage on a residential property in St. Lazare’s Cedarbrook district that has hit a couple of road blocks from the town’s urban planning advisory committee (CCU) prompted resident Robert Hainz to voice his complaints during question period at the Tuesday evening council, November 3.

Hainz is particularly upset because his house falls within the boundaries of the town’s site planning and architectural integration programme (PIIA) that requires new structures and modifications to existing structures adhere to the guidelines established by the PIIA.

Hainz told Mayor Robert Grimaudo and council that since his property frontage doesn’t face, or is close to the street, that the structures on his property should be exempted from the PIIA regulations. He also feels that his property should have never been included as a part of the PIIA.

What bothers Hainz is that after his plans were submitted to the CCU for approval, the committee rejected his proposal to build an attic in the garage that would have been used for storage purposes only, even though homeowners in the municipality who are not within the PIIA are able to have garages with an attic.

And a modification that was made to the original plans so that Hainz could use the existing garage door on his house for the new standalone garage that was recently submitted to the CCU for approval means the project is currently on hold until he receives confirmation that the modification will be allowed.

That’s because the CCU meets only once a month and the next meeting will be held later this month. Whatever decision the committee makes regarding the proposed modifications will be only presented for approval at the next council meeting in December. For Hainz, this means that he’ll have to wait until next spring to complete his garage.

Hainz told council that as an engineer who has worked on several large construction projects including the MUHC super hospital on the Island of Montreal, changes to original plans are commonplace in any construction project and that the town is imposing too many constraints involved in dealing with the regulations within the PIIA.

“I’ve worked on other projects and this garage has become a real nightmare,” Hainz told Your Local Journal after the meeting. “I never thought it would be this complicated. I started this project to have some fun but it hasn’t turned out that way.”

Citing another example, Hainz said that the colour of siding for houses within the PIIA has to be an earth tone colour. “I had siding that was delivered to my house that was grey and not beige, which contravened one part of the town’s PIIA that all siding has to be of an earth tone colour.

“I could have used that siding which would have been cheaper because the wrong colour was delivered, but because I’m in the PIIA zone now, I’m not allowed,” Hainz added. “Now I don’t even know if I’ll get the rest of the plans approved at this point.”

Grimaudo said he understands why Hainz is frustrations, but said all buildings that fall with the PIIA zone have to conform to the regulations. “Changes were made along the way and new information was supplied to the town,” he said. “The CCU itself meets only once a month, so yes there are delays but that’s only because of the changes.”

The town will also study the CCU review process to see if it could be somehow speeded up, Grimaudo added.

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