I had an experience recently which underlines the importance of checking ALL the setbacks which apply to vacant land before making a decision.
Many buyers of vacant land have learned to use the Prince Edward County Geographic Information System (GIS) to check for restrictions on building before making an offer. Customarily, the zoning map in the GIS is used to identify Environmentally Protected (EP) zones and then a setback is applied to determine the “no build” zone.
However, checking the GIS for EP zones is not enough to make sure that you can build where you want to. It’s also important to check for ANSI’s.
ANSI stands for Area of Natural and Scientific Interest which according to the 2021 Official Plan is an “area of land and water containing natural landscapes or features that have been identified as having life science or earth science values related to protection, scientific study or education”.
Under the 2021 Official Plan, the setbacks for ANSI’s are much larger than the setbacks required for Wetlands or Provincially Significant Wetlands. The required setback from an ANSI boundary is 120 meters.
In the example I mentioned, a prospective buyer had identified a piece of vacant land which looked promising as the location for their future home. Figure 1 (above) shows an aerial photo from the GIS with a red circle where they wanted to build.
The was an obvious wet area to the north, but when the zoning map was checked and the required setback marked out (Figure 2) , it looked like they could build where they wanted to.
However, when property was checked against the ANSI map (Figure 3), it was apparent that they couldn’t easily build where they wanted to and they decided not to make an offer. (Based on an Environment Impact Study, building might be possible within the ANSI setback zone.)
The ANSI map can be found on the left “Layers” menu bar in the GIS as shown in Figure 4.