An issue with the way proposed hobby farms are approved in the County of Wetaskiwin was discussed at the Planning and Economic Development meeting June 8.
Two separate and distinct public hearings were held for residents hoping to re-zone agriculture land to hobby farms: the first application was located at SE 35-47-01-W5M and was filed by Doug and Cindy Halladay, while the second was located at SW 22-46-07-W5M and filed by Lloyd and Angela Dolen. While two separate applications, they ended up with the same result.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers opened the first public hearing, and Director of Planning and Development David Blades presented the application. “On April 20, 2018, Administration received a rezoning application from Doug and Cindy Halladay to rezone 19 acres (8.0 hectares) within SE 35-47-01-W5M from Agricultural (AG) to Agricultural Hobby Farm (AHF),” stated Blades in the memo.
“The parcel is located adjacent to the Leduc County and County of Wetaskiwin border along Range Road 11.” During the public hearing Blades noted referrals were sent out to agencies and the application was publicly advertised.
Blades pointed out the Land use Bylaw has a requirement for hobby farms that 80 per cent of the land in question must be below 30 per cent soil rating. “…it has approximately ten (10) acres of the proposed area above a thirty percent (30%) soil rating…” stated the agenda memo and during the public hearing Blades recommended denying the application for this reason.
Rooyakkers pointed out what appeared to be an issue: she said the LUB requirements for hobby farms are stringent and wondered if any applicant in the county had property that was below 30 per cent rating.
Councilor Lyle Seely stated council should stick to the LUB requirements so no precedent was set. Rooyakkers closed the public hearing and the Halladay’s application was defeated by vote of council.
The second public hearing for the Dolen application was opened by Rooyakkers and Blades again presented information. “On April 25, 2018, Administration received a rezoning application from Lloyd and Angela Dolen to rezone 21.6 acre (8.7 hectares) within SW 22-46-7-W5M from Agricultural (AG) to Agricultural Hobby Farm (AHF),” stated Blades in the agenda.
“The property is located along Range Road 73 and in 2015, the Applicants made a subdivision application to subdivide a 14.53 acre Rural Residential parcel due to the parcel being severed by Range Road 73.”
Blades noted the application was publicly advertised and sent to agencies for comments.
Blades noted, again, the soil rating was an issue with the land in question. “…it has at least eight (8) acres of the proposed area above a thirty percent (30%) soil rating, which is approximately thirty percent (37%) of the total area proposed to be rezoned,” stated the memo. “For this proposed rezoning to be in conformance with Section 10.3.2(b), a maximum of twenty percent (20%) of the total area can be above a thirty percent (30%) soil rating. Additionally, the proposed rezoning does not adhere to Section 10.3.6 of the Land Use Bylaw, which states that a maximum lot size of a parcel zoned Agricultural Hobby Farm (AHF) shall be twenty (20) acres.”
Rooyakkers closed the public hearing and the application was defeated on first reading.
Soil rating requirements are typically used as a guide to keep productive farmland from being taken out of production.