A spot re-zoning to accommodate a hobby farm was approved by County of Wetaskiwin council after a public hearing July 11.
The hearing was held during the Planning and Economic Development council meeting.
“On May 3, 2019, Administration received an application from Neil & Joseph Wolter to rezone approximately 19.88 acres (8.04 hectares) within NW 32-45-27-W4M from Agricultural (AG) to Agricultural Hobby Farm (AHF),” stated the staff memo in the council meeting agenda.
“If rezoning is approved, the Applicants intend to subdivide a yard site out of the quarter section.
“The property is located along Township Road 460 and Range Road 275. On May 23, 2019, referral letters were sent to West Central Planning Agency, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD), Alberta Environment, Alberta Transportation, and Administration.”
The only serious concern voiced was from county staff, regarding the soil quality rating which is used to determine whether soil included in an application is generally less productive or more productive agriculturally.
“Numerous comments were made that the proposal as submitted did not meet the soil assessment requirements as currently contained within the Land Use Bylaw,” stated the memo.
“Regarding soil assessment and the concerns of Administration, Administration discussed these particulars with the Applicants and the Applicants asked to undertake a verification of the soil assessment by a third party at their own cost, to which Administration had no objections 2 towards.
“Therefore, the Applicants retained the services of Mr. Ernie Nycholat, P. Ag, of Camrose to perform a review of the soil assessment and provide an “average rating” of the proposal.
“In respect of the information provided by Mr. Nycholat, Administration notes that the methodology used shows a blended average with four areas being the yard-site, which is considered excluded area, trees only from the northern portion of the proposal, a block of pasture located east of the yard site, and land not specifically identified, but within the application area.
With this methodology using the aforementioned portions considered, the numbers do not appear to be consistent and do not result in the same calculated soil areas. For example, it appears that the northern portion of the property that is listed at a fifty-one percent (51%) soil rating is not included in the calculations. Regardless, even without this, the remaining overall area would be considered to be greater than the averages indicated in the application detail.
“After the review of the soil ratings both utilizing internally available information and the information provided by Mr. Nycholat, Administration notes that the proposal as applied for does not meet the criteria for soil assessment for the Agricultural Hobby Farm (AHF) District. Therefore, Administration developed two (2) potential alternatives, aside from the proposal as applied for to attempt to make the rezoning proposal work for the Applicants.”
The two further options involved reducing the size of the parcel to 16.43 acres and 17.99 acres, but staff noted neither option actually met the soil productivity part of the hobby farm rules.
After the public hearing was closed councilors approved the Wolter’s original application.