County approves hobby farm rezoning Aug. 8

Parcel hosts farm animal rescue operation

County of Wetaskiwin council approved a rezoning of country residential land to a hobby farm after a public hearing at their Planning and Development council meeting Aug. 8.

Reeve Terry Van de Kraats opened the public hearing. Melissa Foley had applied to rezone the property, noted development officer Jarvis Grant

“On May 28, 2019, Administration received an application from Melissa Foley to rezone approximately 4.05 acres (1.64 hectares) within Lot 3, Block 1, Plan 1221646, SE 13-46-23-W4M from Country Residential (CR) to Agricultural Hobby Farm (AHF),” stated Grant in his memo to council.

“If rezoning is approved, the existing land uses would be more compatible with the proposed zoning.”

However, Grant noted that the application technically didn’t meet certain requirements.

“The proposed size is smaller than the minimum lot size of 4.95 acres under the AGH district,” noted the memo.

“Soil rating is 57%, so this is greater than the requirement of an area of at least 80% of the land showing no greater than 30% soil rating. It doesn’t meet this requirement.

“Alberta Transportation (AT) comments are important and the existing access onto the proposed AGH area is from a Range Road allowance. However, this Range Road is not built all the way and might not be up to County standard. The frontage is a dedicated service road and AT might ask this to be built to County standard. The change to AGH might trigger a Traffic Impact Assessment depends on their interpretation of whether this AGH will increase in traffic or not as a requirement from AT.”

Grant noted the applicants were aware of the technicalities and that staff had trouble recommending an application that didn’t meet requirements.

“As was outlined to Mr. & Mrs. Foley in a meeting on May 22, 2019, based solely on farmland rating and the size of the proposal being under the minimum five (5) acres, Administration must follow what is set in the Land Use Bylaw as established by direction of Council and recommend refusal. However, due to the nature of this proposal, Council may choose to go outside of their established Bylaws, Policies, and 2 procedures and choose to allow this rezoning to occur, which is what Mr. and Mrs. Foley were informed.”

Foley’s application letter stated, “We currently operate a non-profit organization called F.A.R.R.M. It is the scope of this organization to rescue, rehome, and rehabilitate farm type animals as necessary. Like a dog or cat rescue, animals come into our care for a broad spectrum of reasons that are in need of proper shelter, care, and treatment. We provide a service to residents both in our community and surrounding areas. We offer food assistance programs that provide the necessities to low income families with companion animals in Wetaskiwin County and Maskwacis.”

After the public hearing was closed, councilor Bill Krahn said the parcel is quite small and it’s a nice operation to have in the county. “I am very much in favour of making this go ahead,” said Krahn.

Councilor Josh Bishop said he liked the application because it was actually returning CR land to agriculture.

Councilors unanimously approved all readings of the rezoning.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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