Wetaskiwin county denies subdivision following divisive proposal process

A proposed subdivision that brought controversy to Wetaskiwin county council chambers was laid to rest when it was defeated 6-1 on Nov. 12.

A proposed subdivision that brought controversy to Wetaskiwin county council chambers was laid to rest when it was defeated 6-1 on Nov. 12.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers says council saw too many factors causing issues to approve it, including water flow, the nearby river, sewage and the potential for more accidents along an s-curve near the access where to subdivision was proposed.

“It’s not appealable,” said Rooyakkers.

The subdivision of five acreages, which was to be located south of Township Road 470, along Secondary highway 795, is the second subdivision developer David McAuley has tried to get approved for the area.

In June 2015, McAuley stood before council proposing a subdivision of 14 acreages. After concerns from a collection of nearby and neighboring landowners the number was brought down.

During the public hearing many landowners addressed lingering concerns regarding the proposed subdivision. Many of the nearby landowners spoke of their concern about a commercial trucking operation they all feel was being operated on the land, as they were told the trucking operation would be halted. “This is clearly not the situation,” said Mark Minchau.

However, assistant CAO Rod Hawken informed the crowd there have been on-site inspections of the property.

Minchau was also concerned McAuley has shallow groundwater on his property, as Minchau does. “We have encountered groundwater in several locations at all times of the year we’ve hit water on our land at six feet deep and it’s right across the road.”

One of the reasons John Cummings objected to the subdivision is because he felt the impact of water flow on his property had not been properly addressed. “It gives no assurance that it will not be blocked.”

Lois Brown voiced her concerns over how the fire pond dugout was proposed. She questioned how groundwater would be affected in gravel-based subsoil. “If water drains out of a six-foot hole then how can a dugout in the same soil hold water?”

“It’s going to take a lot of water to keep this dugout full,” she added

In the proposal it states McAuley would top the dugout with water from his own well if need be. This caused much concern over how that would affect the water table and aquifers of the area.

“If the well is for agricultural purposes it can only be used for traditional agricultural purposes,” said Brown.

“Household wells also have a limited usage, as defined in the Water Act,” she added.

Brown says the static water level of her own well has dropped 20 feet in the last 30 years. “Our dugout has dried up three consecutive years, and that’s our fire pond.”

Linda and Lloyd Earnheart had their letter read during the hearing, as they were not present. “We are opposed to this development mainly for safety reasons,” the letter stated. The approach to the subdivision would sit on Secondary Highway 795, south of a “sharp” S-curve. The Earnharts called on council to listen to the 140 people who signed a petition created to stop the division. It was handed to council earlier this year.

The letter closed by stating if council approved the subdivision area structure plan the upset community may call for councillors’ resignation.

Planning consultant Bob Riddett spoke on behalf of McAuley during the public hearing. “We changed the layout so that all five lots are at the west end of the quarter section, on tree-covered land. Invisible from the highway and neighboring properties.”

Riddett also told council McAuley’s trucking operation has been moved to other land, east of Wetaskiwin. “There’s no longer any commercial traffic in or out of this site.”

The subdivision was also proposed to be situated on farmland rated at nine per cent; below the county’s 30 per cent cutoff.

“Flooding was raised as an issue. One neighbor asked if the proposed lots might be flooded by high flow of Bigstone Creek,” said Riddett. “Even if the creek back up and overflows the highway it will not flood any of the proposed lots,” he added.

In regard to the access, Riddett says there is little cause for concern. “Alberta Transportation has examined this and they have no concerns.”

With the reduced number of lots, the access would be able to keeps it’s Type 1 classification without having to widen and upgrade to a Type 2, says Riddett. Having the intersection, as well as who would have to pay for it, was a concern of the landowners.

“Water supply was one of the issues that was raised,” said Riddett.

“I will repeat that we had an independent professional engineer examine the well logs in the area. Including the log of the new well on the quarter he concluded even in a prolonged drought there is sufficient water for 14 new lots without risking the flow to existing wells in the area,” he added.

Riddett says there are also already 26 subdivided lots within two miles of McAuley’s quarter.

 

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