New land zone created for Dorchester development June 8

Recreational Resort Holdings - Dorchester Ranch Resort (RRH-DRR) approved after public hearing

A new land zone was created by the County of Wetaskiwin in conjunction with a major developer near Pigeon Lake, during the June 8 Planning and Development meeting.

County council conducted a public hearing for a proposed amendment to the Land Use Bylaw to create a new land district, Recreational Resort Holdings – Dorchester Ranch Resort (RRH-DRR), located within the S ½ -25 – 45 – 1 W5M.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers opened the public hearing. Director of Development and Planning David Blades described the application for the Dorchester site located south of The Village at Pigeon Lake.

“Since early 2017, County of Wetaskiwin Administration and Dorchester Developments Inc. have been working to identify and resolve outstanding issues with Dorchester Ranch Resort,” stated Blades in his memo to council.

“The introduction of a new Land Use District being added to Land Use Bylaw 2017/48 is one of the options that has been contemplated and proposed from the initial discussions with the original developers of the Project, Bill Singh.

“The proposed new District Recreational Resort Holdings – Dorchester Ranch Resort (RRH-DRR) District should address concerns and issues that the current subdivision is experiencing in adhering with the current Recreational (R) District zoning. The main issues of concern that have been addressed are discretionary uses, lot sizes, building placement, site coverage and three units that are not recreation vehicles.”

Blades noted the application was publicly advertised and agencies advised. As well, he noted Dorchester Ranch resort held an open house on May 19 and the agenda item held comments from spokesperson Patrick Burke, who was at the public hearing.

Burke stated (sic), “Our records indicate that we had 98 lot owners in attendance, representing 62 lots of the 89 lots sold. In addition our remaining 85 lots, we have currently received back 54 signed rezoning application forms. Other lot owners that were unable to attend received the Rezoning background letter and, like all owners, will get access to the presentation materials that will be posted to the Community’s Facebook page this week. Not surprising there are some lot owners that do not want any change and some that have expressed conditional support, provided that the two changes outlined below are addressed by the County in their proposed RRH-DRR District.”

Those two changes included “Limit length of modular units to maximum length of 16.8 m (55 ft). This length was estimated based on accommodating the ‘attractive’ +/- 50 foot long units, with some room to accommodate other slightly longer units; the maximum length is intended to prevent the ‘long mobile home park look’.

The second was “Limit units to a maximum of one storey in height. This is intended to prevent/reduce a perceived blocking of views or overshadowing on a neighbour’s property. The county may also want to include a maximum height provision as well to prevent vast ‘open ceiling’ units that technically meet the one-storey standards during application, but are then illegally filled in later with a second storey. We recognize that some RV, Park Model & Modular units come with lofts and do not wish to prevent them in the area, but do not want full two storey houses/units allowed.”

Burke stated under the section “dividing issues,” “The following issues seem to be the major diving forces between support for rezoning and the status quo. These ‘dividing issues’ are being provided for your information only, with no action or revisions being requested by us.

“1. No guest RVs allowed on their lot under proposed district. This is an issue for the area now, since some people do not want their neighbours hosting family and friends and their RVs throughout the summer. As previously mentioned we strongly support removing the guest RV provision, and have told residents that we could host their guest on some of our serviced vacant lots for a short period. Our current position is that we do not want guest RVs on each lot and we will not revise our application to accommodate the minority of lot owners.

“2. Taxes: a minority of residents are concerned that their taxes could go up under a new zone. We acknowledged this potential and pointed out property taxes are largely based on valuation, so major improvements (regardless of zone) will likely lead to increased taxes.”

No spoke against the application at the public hearing.

Blades said county staff recommended approving the creation of the new land zone, which would then become part of the Land Use Bylaw. Rooyakkers closed the public hearing.

Councilors unanimously passed first, second and third readings of the bylaw, including a motion to allow third reading June 8.

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