Bylaws intended for auto-recycling business dropped on technicality

A Stettler auto recycler, planning to relocate just south of town near the rail line, will have to try it again after the municipal elections as the rezoning bylaws that would enable him to go ahead were dropped as a result of a regulatory technicality.

With a tied vote of 3-3 at its regular meeting Sept. 7, county council defeated land-use and zoning bylaws that would have allowed the auto-recycling business to operate along Highway 56 on the northern gateway of the Town of Stettler.

These bylaws would have established a direct-control district and rezoned a 10-acre parcel of land on the east side of Highway 56 one-half mile north of the Town of Stettler to accommodate East Central Auto Recyclers, owned and operated by James Nibourg.

Councillor Vic Carey, who supported the bylaws in their second reading in July, was absent from the recent meeting as councillors Joe Gendre, Wayne Nixon and Dave Grover voted in favour of third and final reading to the bylaws.

However, with three votes for and Reeve Earl Marshall and Councillors Les Stulberg and Blake Chapman voting against, the bylaw was lost on a tie vote.

“It’s probably the biggest disservice to a business owner that our council has ever done,” councilor Gendre told the Independent after the meeting.

“I’m all for business in the county,” said councilor Grover, as Councilor Nixon echoed these comments.

During the public hearing on the bylaws on July 7, the Town of Stettler council and several neighbouring property owners also opposed the bylaws.

County Reeve Marshall and Councillors Stulberg and Chapman opposed the bylaws since the business at that location would not conform with the inter-municipal development plan that the town and county adopted last year.

Since the land is located within the inter-municipal development plan for the County of Stettler and the Town of Stettler, the application also requires review by the town.

“The town advised that should the county give third reading (adopt the bylaw), the town would appeal it the Alberta Municipal Government Board,” said Johan van der Bank, director of planning and development.

Although the proposed bylaws were defeated by county council, the applicant can apply again to rezone the land with new faces on council after municipal elections in October.

“He can reapply for the same application after 90 days or if he changes some aspects of the application, he can make it sooner,” said van der Bank.

After the bylaws were defeated, the applicant is still considering further options.

“We at East Central Auto Recycling are very disappointed with the decision of County of Stettler council on Sept. 7,” Nibourg said in a statement in response to a query by the Independent.

“The failure of third (final) reading came as quite a surprise.”

“The fact that a tie vote means that the decision is automatically turned down does come as a decision that is hard to take.

“We do understand that some councillors have taken issue with this project for one reason or another over the past 14 months,” Nibourg said.

“We do feel, however, that we made every effort to satisfy any concerns that were brought to us.”

“We also feel in this current economy that government should do everything possible to encourage business of all kinds, especially one that is green with recycling at its main goal.”

“We are not saying business at any cost but if you have a local person with strong ties and involvement in the betterment of our community (not a large multi-national with bottomless pocket and not heart tied to the community), our local government councilors should put their vote where the heart lies,” Nibourg stressed.

“We still feel the Stettler area is a great place to do business and raise a family but at this time we are going to weigh our options to see what the next step will be for our business.”

Nibourg had selected this site since the business requires railway access and it is located in a prominent highway location where effective screening of the stockpiling yard from highway traffic and a high-quality exterior finishing of the facility are a high priority.