Real Estate

Chaulk Talk – Wayne Chaulk – Dec 2019

Foothills Visual & Noise Bylaws – How They Can Impact Acreage Owners & MProperty Values

Municipal governments have numerous and detailed bylaws regarding property development such as development, home acreage construction, home business operations and Dark Sky lighting guidelines to name just a few. They are too extensive and detailed to cover in an article such as this, but as a point of interest as it pertains to how certain bylaws may affect property values if not adhered to, I am just highlighting some of the Community Standards Bylaws adopted a few years ago by the MD Foothills as they are the day to day obvious things one can be impacted by. These bylaws were developed to help create order and respect for each other’s privacy and right to both quiet and visual enjoyment of one’s property.

Over my career on my visits to a wide variety of properties for either evaluations purposes, listing of properties, or representing buyers looking at acreages and land, it has been interesting and troubling to see firsthand how in several cases property owners and their neighbours are not adhering to several of the MD community standard bylaws. Whether one is affected by bylaw contraventions as a neighbour or whether what you may be doing or not doing may be affecting your neighbour, I felt it useful to include in this article a summary of these bylaws in case some readers are not aware of them or need a reminder about them.

There is nothing more troubling than arriving at a beautiful property I am asked to evaluate and list than to see the neighbouring property messy, uncared for, and run down with cars, trailers & equipment strewn across it. I’m sure the selling client has been bothered by this while living there but likely held back complaining because they don’t want soured relations with their neighbour. Nevertheless, for property owners it is troubling that your property may not be as marketable or valuable when it comes time to sell unless the contravention/s of the bylaws are rectified.

Furthermore, contravention of bylaws, whether you are doing them knowingly or not, could be affecting the attitudes of your neighbours towards you, creating discontent and harbouring of resentment. Ideally, correction of contraventions should take place voluntarily over formal complaints being lodged for enforcement. Certainly the wise counsel of “Do onto others as you would want them to do unto you” applies to how you keep your property and respect your neighbours.

Visual Bylaws: First, a definition of Unsightly Premises outlined in the MD Foothills standards documents.

“Unsightly Premises” means any premises whether land, buildings, improvements to the land or buildings, personal property or any combination of the above, located on lands within the Municipal District, which, in the opinion of an Officer, is unsightly to such a degree as to detrimentally affect the repose, amenities, use, value or enjoyment of the surrounding lands in reasonable proximity to the Unsightly Premises, or is otherwise detrimental to the surrounding area.

Conditions constituting a Nuisance or Unsightly premises may include but not be limited to:

  • Accumulation of rubbish, garbage, containers, dirt, soil, gravel, dissembled machinery parts, hazardous materials etc.
  • Uncut grass or presence of excessive levels of weeds which demonstrates neglect.
  • The presence of more than 2 unlicensed vehicles on 2 acres or less and more than 3 unlicensed vehicles on larger parcels.
  • Vehicle parts, equipment or machinery that has been rendered inoperative.
  • The accumulation of animal material or yard material or scrap building materials, scrap, waste.
  • All buildings, structures and improvements to property to be maintained consistent with the surrounding area so that the foundations, exterior walls, roof, windows & frames, doors, steps, driveways and fences are kept in reasonable care.
  • All fixtures, improvements, renovations, or additions to any building, structure but not limited to exterior stairs, porches, decks, patios, landings, portable seasonal lawn furnishings, gazebos, balconies etc. must be kept in reasonable state of repair consistent with the surrounding area.

Noise Bylaws:

General Prohibitions: No person shall in either the day time or the night time:

(a) make, continue, cause or allow to be made or continued any excessive, unnecessary, or unusual noise of any type.
(b) allow or permit any real or personal property that is owned, occupied or controlled by that person to be used in a way that allows excessive, unnecessary, or unusual noise of any type to emanate from such property.
(c) Operate, allow or permit the operation of a Speaker System of any type at an unnecessarily loud volume, thereby creating excessive noise.
(d) Operate a Vehicle, including Off- Highway Vehicles, if the exhaust muffler is cut-out, disconnected or has had the baffle plate or other parts removed.

Activities in Residential Developments:

Vehicle Noises:

Except as authorized through development permit approval, no Person shall permit a Vehicle located in premises to emit Noise which emanates from the Premises and disturb or annoy a Person, including Noise from racing, excessive engine revving and stereo and amplification equipment in the vehicle. For the purposes of the Bylaw, A Vehicle includes a Vehicle or Off-Highway vehicle but does not include tractors or other Vehicles operated in the normal maintenances of property, or productions of livestock or crops.

Some other areas of concern:

Businesses being operated without a licence – thus bringing additional people, equipment and car traffic to an area when it should not be happening unless an approved MD business operation. This is an area that warrants a separate discussion because of the various discretionary and non-discretionary uses. It is best if you are uncertain to research this area of the bylaws.

If you are uncertain of any Bylaws that may affect you visit the MD Foothills site at: and navigate to “land use bylaws.”

Wayne Chaulk
Real Estate Agent

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