Land use bylaw changes scheduled for public hearing

County of Wetaskiwin drops RV policy from draft bylaw

Before changes are officially made to the County of Wetaskiwin’s land use bylaw a public hearing will be held Oct. 12, and council has already scrapped two of the items listed in the draft bylaw.

During county council’s Sept. 14 planning and economic development meeting councillor’s debated and ultimately decided to drop items relating to recreational vehicle (RV) usage in areas zoned Country Residential and Agricultural Small Homes Districts before they could even reach the public input stage.

Within the draft bylaw it was proposed to allow a single RV unit on a section of land where no dwelling exists on the three-year permit in Country Residential, as a discretionary use.

Coun. Larry McKeever was the only member in favour of keeping the item included in the bylaw.

“I just see this as an option that shows some flexibility. This will be a win,” said McKeever.

He added, by mandating the RV users return to council and apply for another discretionary use permit every three years — at $500 per permit — it will encourage them to eventually building dwellings on the land.

Assistant CAO Rod Hawken pointed out to councillors by leaving the item in the bylaw council is actually allowing the use of two RVs on a lot; the permitted three- year RV and a short-term camping unit.

McKeever answered the bylaw should stipulate lots with a permitted three-year RV should not be allowed another for short-term camping. “I think that’s fair, personally.”

“I don’t agree with that at all … We need to stay consistent,” said reeve Kathy Rooyakkers.

Coun. Garry Dearing feels RV use is not compatable with Country Residential, and that if certain subdivisions as a whole want to allow RVs then the landowners as a united community can apply to rezone to Lakeshore Residential.

He added he could not support the policy in the bylaw because the county cannot solve an issue prevalent in one or two two areas by creating a blanketing policy that will affect all Country Residential zoned land across the county.

“We’re blanketing the whole county and I don’t like that,” added Rooyakkers.

Councillors also decided to remove a policy regarding Agricultural Small Homes District from the bylaw.

The policy would have allowed lands between five and 20 acres to operate an agricultural business with an approved agricultural business plan.

“We do have a demand for this,” said Rooyakkers.

Dearing had concerns business plans would fall by the wayside as lands are bought and sold over the years.

“We had these years ago in the county. One quarter is a hobby farm to me. I’m not really hung up on this but I can see it causing issues down the road,” said Dearing.

Coun. Terry Van der Kraats voiced he felt allowing this would further add to the fragmentation of good farm land.

He stated, rather than focusing on 20 acre parcels he would rather see landowners have 80 acres, work the 15 to 20 they need and rent out the remaining land.

Council’s discussion surrounding Agricultural Small Homes District was closely tied to the topic of Agricultural Hobby Farms, which was left intact in the bylaw.

David Blades, director of planning and economic development says within the land use bylaw there are safeguards in place regarding the fragmentation of agricultural land.

“I think both of these are good, effective use of land, now and in the future,” said McKeever.

Blades also highlighted with council two other major components of the land use bylaw; secondary suits inside current residences, and tractor-trailer billboard signs. Both items will be included in the bylaw presented during the public hearing.

The proposed bylaw allows for secondary suits inside currents residences so long as all applicable provincial safety codes are met.

Van de Kraats is concerned this will create a breeding environment for suits that do not meet the safety codes, and they will be hard to notice inside already established buildings.

It was pointed out this could already be happening now, but with a bylaw policy perhaps landlords will take care to ensure safety codes are met as the bylaw is enforceable with consequences if necessary.

After discussing if issue of tractor-trailer billboards is a matter the county should even be looking into, councillors feel the onus should be on Alberta Transportation to say whether or not they should be allowed along the highways.

McKeever feels if the county takes on this responsibility and then cannot enforce their decision it could become similar to the RV issue down the road.

“We have so many other big things to do. I don’t think we should even touch it,” said Rooyakkers.

Dearing says on one hand landowners are paid to have the signs on their land, but on the other hand in other situations setbacks from the highway is Alberta Transportation jurisdiction.

Dearing added the matter should be brought to the public during the hearing.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca

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