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County of Stettler council takes heat over Land Use Bylaw Amendments

The County acclaimed several new bylaws during the Dec. 9th council meeting

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Independent

The County of Stettler acclaimed several new bylaws during the Dec. 9th council meeting.

Two bylaws passed during the meeting, Bylaw 1644-20, a Land Use Bylaw amendment, and Bylaw 1647-20, a rezoning bylaw – both of which were subject to public hearings prior to their passage.

While Bylaw 1647-20 received no input from the community during the public hearing, the same cannot be said about Bylaw 1644-20, which saw three callers contacting council in opposition of the Land Use Bylaw amendments.

“Several sections in the bylaw are flawed,” stated James Marshall, one of the callers.

“The wording is flawed, and very poor… in my opinion the County should revisit this.”

“It’s a vicious, vicious, vicious attack on the aggregate industry,” said Earl Marshall, another caller.

“I find it very hard to believe this bylaw is necessary…looking at this bylaw alone, it will cost me $132,000 to get a development permit.”

The amendments to the Land Use Bylaw add in components that discuss aspects around gravel pits, such as the requirements for reports or studies on new projects and who may supply the studies.

The amendments also require prospective pits to put forward operational plans, stipulating hours and days of the week they will operate, routes in and out for gravel trucks, site reclamation plans, and requirements for air quality testing.

“I’ve been in business in the County of Stettler for 31 years,” said Marshall.

“I operate in five counties, have seven pits, one as close as 18-metres to a household, and only have had one complaint in the County of Stettler.”

One critique of the amendments was what the callers felt to be a lack of stakeholder engagement, something that Jacinta Donovan, the director of planning services, disagreed with.

“We did our normal process for Land Use Bylaw amendments. We advertised in both the papers, and on the web site. That is the procedure that we followed,” said Donovan.

Some further discussion was held on the bylaw between council and administration, discussing some of the comments made by the callers.

Once satisfied with administration’s explanation for the reasons behind some of their decisions, and wording in the bylaw, both bylaws were passed.

Also passed during the Dec. 9th meeting were Bylaw 1645-20, a bylaw which slightly altered electoral ward boundaries; Bylaw 1648-20, a bylaw requiring a $100 deposit for anyone who wishes to run for council; Bylaw 1649-20, the Buffalo Sands Special Tax Levy Bylaw; Bylaw 1650-20, the Buffalo View Estates special tax levy, and Bylaw 1651-20, the Operating Borrowing Bylaw.