County of Stettler deals blow to Scenic Sands RV owners

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  • Aug. 24, 2011 11:00 a.m.

Julie Bertrand/Independent reporter

After reading the results of a community survey conducted in the spring, county of Stettler has imposed restrictions on RVs in three Buffalo Lake communities.

Bylaw 1461-11, which was adopted at the council meeting last Wednesday, provides that landowners may use one or more RV for living accommodation for a period that does not exceed 14 days, without having to obtain a development permit.

If the RV is going to be used as a dwelling unit for more than 14 days, the landowners must obtain a development permit, as long as RVs are permitted and the parcel is not yet developed.

Thus, people in Buffalo Lake Meadows and Buffalo View Estates may apply for a permit, which will cost $200, to use a RV as a dwelling unit, subject to the recreational vehicle being connected to a certified sewage-disposal system.

Permits in Buffalo Lake Meadows will be valid for five years while permits in Buffalo View Estates will be valid for two years. In both communities, a landowner may re-apply for a permit each time the permit expires.

Scenic Sands landowners that had RVs on their parcels as of Aug. 10, however, will only be able to get a onetime permit of five years to use a RV as a dwelling unit.

The permit is not renewable. If the landowners decided to build a dwelling on their parcels, they may then be issued a 24-month permit to continue to stay in the RV while the house is being constructed.

Even though 75 per cent of the Scenic Sands residents voted in favour of permitting RV use in their community, council decided to honour the developer’s original intent.

“Back in the 1980s, the developer put out a restrictive covenant on those properties, saying that the residents can only have a RV for the time it takes them to build a house,” said Johan van der Bank, director of planning and development for the county of Stettler.

As several Scenic Sands ignored the covenant or did not know about it, and because it never was the county’s responsibility to enforce it, RVs in the community became a controversial issue.

While the first draft of the bylaw tried to reach a compromise by grandfathering RVs already in place at Scenic Sands and forbidding residents without RVs to put one on their parcel, council decided at the last minute to only allow RVs to remain at Scenic Sands for a five-year period.

“At the same time in the bylaw, council made it very clear that anybody who has a vacant lot can use that lot for recreational purposes by bringing their RV onto it and living in the RV for up to 14 days per 30-day period,” van der Bank said.

“Many of the Scenic Sands residents are surprised by the late change to the bylaw. But as I explained to them, that is council’s prerogative. Councillors can do that.”

According to van der Bank, residents can appeal the bylaw by petitioning council to reconsider the RV issue.

“The community of Scenic Sands is a very understanding community. They are a tight-knit community and they will work this out themselves. They will live and let live,” van der Bank said.

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