County of Wetaskiwin says fines will stay in place

‘Them’s fightin’ words’ states irate taxpayer

A very angry County of Wetaskiwin taxpayer didn’t get satisfaction after his angry request to have development permit fees refunded was turned down at the Planning and Economic Development council meeting May 17.

Kelly Peach sent a letter to county council requesting he be refunded some of the fees municipal staff levied on him for a development permit problem that seemed to go on for a very long time.

“My name is Kelly Peach and l am the owner of a property in the hamlet of Buck Lake within the county of Wetaskiwin,” stated the letter.

“The reason l am being forced to pay $1,000 on top of $2,045 offsite levy (whatever that is) is because I didn’t apply for a development permit before the date of March 2 2019.

I had a conversation at some point in the distant past with a county person who said I needed a permit for the property and I agreed. He said he would e-mail me the application. He did that a while later and I dragged my feet on the process and assumed that since my property taxes doubled in 2018, the county got what they wanted.

“The next contact from the county was a warning letter sent on Feb 15/19 warning that the fee was now increased from $100 to $500 to get the same permit! No warning and no phone call or email!

“The county obviously has my contact info. This in my opinion is completely unfair. I happened to be away from Feb16 to March 15/19 and had my mail picked up but I didn’t open the five times mafia style warning letter until Saturday March 16/19.

“If that didn’t make me militantly angry enough, on Monday March 18/19 I signed for a registered letter saying I now must pay 10 times the $100 permit fee amount and must remove two buildings from the property by April 15/19 if I fail to get a permit!

“I’m not sure about whoever reads this but man it makes me want to fight!

“I am asking council to refund the $900 overpayment to me and change the county office’s policy to blindside property owners with these pick pocket tactics.”

County staff responded by saying there were unpermitted developments on Peach’s property, and staff spent almost a year and a half trying to get him to obtain the development permits. “During an inspection by the Assessment Department in 2017, it was noted that on the NW 10- 46-6-W5M, Lot PT 8, Block 1, Plan 3622HW an older existing barn structure was in the process of being converted into a residence and that a moved-on detached garage had been placed on the property without obtaining the required development permits,” stated the staff memo.

“Upon discovery of the developments, the Assessment Department notified the Planning and Development Department.”

The memo stated that County of Wetaskiwin staff began contacting Peach by phone, email and letter on Jan. 29, 2018 to get him to obtain the development permit, and it took until Apr. 8, 2019 to complete that job. Staff said Peach was only charged the fees that are on the books.

“Simply put, Administration is of the position that Mr. Peach was given more than sufficient time and notice to complete a Development Permit application at the original fee of one-hundred dollars ($100) and chose to disregard the advisement made by Administration,” stated the memo.

Both Reeve Terry Van de Kraats and councilor Lyle Seely stated there was no reason to refund any fees.

Councilors unanimously denied the request.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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