County open to improve proposed land-use bylaw

A new land-use bylaw proposed for the County of Stettler will be further studied over the next two months following a public hearing Sept. 7 that raised numerous concerns and questions.

Council tabled second reading to its regular meeting Nov. 10, which could include new faces after municipal elections Oct. 18.

“We got a lot of new information from the public and staff and we need more time to review the proposed bylaw,” said Reeve Earl Marshall.

“We’ve got to listen to the concerns.”

He appreciated the good comments and concerns from residents and property owners.

“There is a lot of concern and I guess we didn’t inform the public as well as we should have,” said Reeve Marshall.

After an extensive review, the proposed bylaw was explained during the public hearing that attracted 25 residents.

A new public service district appeared to be the main concern raised by many of the eight people who publicly addressed council while staff received about 10 submissions.

A number of properties are proposed to be rezoned as part of the new land-use bylaw and some of these aim to bring parcels of land into the policy framework of the new municipal development plan which allows the first subdivision out of a quarter section to remain in the agricultural district, explained Johan van der Bank, director of planning and development.

“The important role of the land-use bylaw is to guide development in a way that complements or promotes the intent of the municipal development plan.”

“The purpose of the other rezoning proposals is to rezone county-owned property as school sites to the new public services district.”

Initially 80 per cent of affected residents, when notified by the county, agreed to the new designation and eventually, all affected landowners – except one – supported the proposal, he said.

Many people requested that the designated environmental and municipal reserve land be kept green.

“Environmental and municipal reserves can be used only for public park,” said van der Bank, noting that this is stipulated under the Municipal Government Act.

Residents were most opposed to the proposed bylaw that would restrict the number of animals on small farm properties and require permits for agricultural operations in the country residence agricultural district.

Contrary to how some residents have interpreted some terms, van der Bank clarified that a farm permit is not required for an agricultural operations although it is required to construct a dug-out, shelterbelt and farm shed.

While some residents stated that proposed bylaw is too instrusive. restrictive and extensive, van der Bank explained it enables the county to better guide and monitor various activities and scenarios in the county to help protect landowners, residents and the county.

Rob Somerville of Endiang spoke against the proposed land-use bylaw as he stated in the letter to the editor to the Stettler Independent on Sept. 1.

Although he stated that the public hearing was not adequately advertised, the county planner said the county met all requirements.

The proposed land-use bylaw provides for the protection of agricultural operations, divides the county into land-use districts, prescribes for each district the uses of land and buildings that are permitted and discretionary and the conditions that may be attached to those areas.

It further prescribes the method to make a decision on an application for development permit, establishes the number of dwelling units permitted on a parcel of land, provides for subdivision design and development standards and associated matters and proposes to rezone certain existing parcels of land.