Second public hearing set for county land-use bylaw, likely in spring

A proposed new land-use bylaw for the County of Stettler will go to a second public hearing – likely around next spring in 2011.

At its regular meeting Nov. 8, county council restarted the process that was put on hold after the public hearing Sept. 7 until after municipal elections in October.

Since four of the seven members of council were not at the public hearing, and therefore cannot vote on the issue under the Municipal Government Act, the three incumbent councillors re-elected would not provide a needed quorum, stated Johan van der Bank, director of planning and development.

“We need to bring the new councillors up-to-date and hopefully bring a revised draft bylaw by March or April for public hearing,” said van der Bank.

Residents raised basically two issues at the public hearing – municipal reserve rezoning and farm permits,” he said.

“Overall, there wasn’t too much opposition to the bylaw and there are some good changes we made from comments at the public hearing,” said van der Bank.

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 van der Bank

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

Initially 80 per cent of affected 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.

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.

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