Every time I have a lot for sale in Puslinch I receive dozens of enquiries from people looking to build their dream home. One of the most frequent questions I get is, “Why is it so hard to find land in Puslinch?” With its rolling hills and winding country roads, Puslinch is a large rural community with a relatively low population. According to 2011 census data, there are only 2619 private dwellings in this community that spans over 53,000 acres – there certainly is no shortage of open space!
So why can’t we find land to build on?
The answer to this question is that the majority of land in Puslinch is zoned as Agricultural, and so for the purposes of this article I will discuss severance requirements based on Agricultural zoning.
In order to obtain a severance, a land owner must apply for one through the County of Wellington. A call to the County of Wellington Planning Department is certainly an important first step for landowners considering a severance. A few quick questions can help determine if a landowner may be able to sever land from their existing property. A landowner must have owned the property for 5 or more years AND the property can not have had a severance since March 1, 2005. If the proposed severance meets these first criteria, then further investigation is certainly warranted. The Planning Department will then further investigate to determine if the severance meets the guidelines for the official plan – is it in Prime or Secondary agricultural lands, does the land have important natural features, is it regulated by a conservation authority? These are some of the questions that can affect the proposed severance, perhaps requiring adjustments be made to the lot lines, or in some cases, preventing the land from being severed at all.
Landowners must present proof that the lot will meet certain minimum requirements. The current Township of Puslinch zoning By-Laws set minimum lot requirements as 0.4 hectares, which is roughly equal to 1 acre and a minimum frontage of 24.3 m (80ft). This is relatively straightforward, however, if one wishes to build a home on the lot there are further by-laws that must be considered. For example there are minimum distances required between farm buildings and dwellings, between dwellings and lot lines, not to mention where the well, septic system and driveway entrance are going to go! I always recommend landowners enlist the aid of an experienced surveyor to help the process move along.
When a landowner has finally gone through the process and the severance is granted, you may still never see the land listed on the MLS. With local custom home builders and experienced Realtors constantly on the lookout for land for their clients, the lot is often sold through exclusive listings before the ink is dry on the consent. Furthermore, the family farm lifestyle still exists in Puslinch, and many severances are completed for use by family members.
While there are a few hurdles to jump over and the fees are not insignificant, the return for the land owner’s investment is significant with land values in Puslinch currently at an all time high. It’s no secret that the community boasts an amazing community spirit, quick and easy access to commuter routes and amenities and a stunning rural landscape, all making it a go-to community for people looking to build their dream home.