Rezoning for firewood business defeated by County of Wetaskiwin council Oct. 11

Wizard Lake Watershed zoning prevails; second application possible

BA rezoning for a small parcel of land with a unique description was defeated at the County of Wetaskiwin’s Planning and Economic development meeting Oct. 11 after a public hearing.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers opened the public hearing for a rezoning filed by the owners of a firewood company.

Director of Planning David Blades presented a report to council which stated, “On August 27, 2018, Administration received an application from Ian Koop and Cheryl Vermeesch to rezone approximately twelve (12) acres (4.84 hectares) within SE 33-47-27-W4M that is currently zoned Wizard Lake Watershed district (WLW) in accordance with Bylaw 2006/38 and return the twelve (12) acres back to Agricultural (AG) to allow for animals and their firewood business to occur onsite and to bring the parcel back to its ‘natural’ state.

“The property is located 1.2 kilometers south of Wizard Lake, 1/2 mile east of Range Road 274 and north off of Township Road 475. Approximately 57.5 acres of the eighty (80) acre parcel is heavily treed with a creek running the length of the property.”

A firewood business can’t be operated on land zoned WLW, hence the application.

The WLW zoning became a bone of contention during the public hearing, as neighbours opposed removing it.

A representative of the Wizard Lake Watershed and Lake Stewardship Association, secretary/treasurer LaVerne Ellsworth, said the organization opposed the rezoning as nutrient loading on inlets was a concern, and there is an inlet into the lake near the parcel.

Ellsworth said the organization was also concerned about a large drainage ravine that runs into the lake and monitoring already shows a significant amount of nutrients and contamination running into the lake. He said nutrients contribute to problems like blue-green algae blooms.

“That’s what we’re concerned with,” said Ellsworth.

The applicant, Koop, spoke next. He said there is no intention to damage anything and no clearcutting is planned. He said the firewood business isn’t an every day thing and runs perhaps only one or two days a week.

He said the operation uses modern equipment which is quiet and chainsaws are only used sparingly. Koop stated over 12 months, there are only 10 or 11 big trucks bringing wood into the site and added there is already lots of truck traffic on that road.

He noted the only planned change is perhaps a residence, and the forested nature of the land is preferred. “We want to see trees,” said Koop.

Councilor Josh Bishop, looking at maps in the agenda package, suggested swapping the parcel in question for a piece of land in the north part of the parcel. Koop said the idea sounded reasonable.

Assistant CAO Jeff Chipley noted he received two letters from the public that were both opposed to the rezoning. The letters noted water quality in the lake, traffic and noise were concerns. Other neighbours voiced concern about noise and drainage.

Blades noted at this point that if the site was changed, the process would have to be begun again, as public advertisements noted only the location above.

Councilor Lyle Seely said he like Bishop’s suggestion. “I like the idea of a swap,” said Seely. “Swap is a great idea.”

The public hearing was closed, and the first reading was made based on the application. It was defeated.

Blades mentioned he would work with the applicants to possibly bring back another application based on a site in the north part of the parcel.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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