By Justin Seward
A land use reclassification sparked discussion among Cypress County councillors at their Jan. 7 meeting.
Ronald and Wendy Van Maarion had submitted an application to reclassify a 3. 5 hectare (8.8 acre) piece of land from A-2 General Agriculture to Country Residential District. The applicant intended on developing a continuation of the existing multi-parcel subdivision with addition of two country residential parcels on the Highway 523 property, which is a kilometre north of Township Road 122.
The proposed land use reclassification is dryland pasture and the Van Maarions were planning on granting access to the proposed parcels from the existing, paved internal service road, while the remainder of the agriculture title currently gains direct access from Highway 523.
Council moved second reading to discuss the land use amendment and then postponed at the Dec. 17 meeting and wanted to receive further details in respect to Bylaw 2008/22 to impose a Local Improvement Tax for the paving of the internal service road. However, the Limitation Act does not apply in this situation and council would have the ability to revise the Local Tax Improvement bylaw so that each benefiting parcel would have an appropriate share of the tax.
Paving of the internal service road cost the county in 2008 over $89,000 from reserves and $50,000 from the collected by the way of a special tax against the parcels that benefited from the improvement over a 25 year period.
However, the policy is different now than it was in 2008.
Now, the county has to receive a petition for a 25 year period but does not place a monetary cap on how much the municipality can collect.
“Today if we were to receive an application for a multi-parcel subdivision, it would be the developers responsibility now to have to pave that road,” said Kaylene Simpson, Cypress County’s director of planning.
“If we had an existing multi-parcel subdivision somewhere out in the county that currently has gravel, then we could look at this policy to whether it’s a dust control treatment, oiling or paving.”
Additionally, the Van Maarions were wanting to use the two existing water connections from the Westside Water Co-op for domestic purposes, as well as an existing irrigation turnout for watering yardsites.
Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit thinks there needs to be more consultation among land owners.
There is an existing multi-parcel subdivision located immediately west of the proposed reclassification which were subdivided from the remainder of the agriculture title in 2001.
“I do have a struggle when we have an existing multi-parcel subdivision that has been established and without having the approval or the cooperation of the existing owners of that multi-parcel,” said Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit.
“I understand what you are hoping to do. But I also think when you have a multi-parcel that has existed for a lot of years now, to me the application doesn’t fit our current policies. We’re considering a way of going around that by doing this but it’s happening at the expense potentially of the people that bought in and developed on that original land.”
Kurpjuweit added he would like to see this application defeated right now and eventually come back if this were to happen with the agreement that is in place there now with an amendment to the multi- parcel versus the county coming in and saying that they are going to impost two more lots whether the owner likes or not.
“In relation to those policies that Robin is speaking to in relation to multi-parcel subdivisions, it’s a little bit unclear as to what that policy’s intent was,” said Simpson.
“It’s clear if there is a new multi-parcel subdivision being developed but we really don’t specifically address continuations of multi-parcel subdivisions. That’s something I’m going to want to take forward to council to bring to their attention so they can make a decision moving forward and so we have clear direction.”
Simpson says council is not opposed to country residential development in the area but are opposed to putting something in that subdivision where they have all these people in there that have an objection and maybe do not have a say.
Coun. Ernest Mudie feels council is impeding on development rights to adjacent land owners.
“We don’t do regulations on what’s on a subdivision. We don’t have quality control,” said Mudie.
“I don’t see it much different than the City of Medicine Hat to develop the land across from the guys at Connaught and they didn’t like it. We have to get along with people. You want a smaller parcel, you put up with what’s there.”
Simpson agreed with Mudie’s point on development standards for subdivisions because the existing subdivision has a restricted convenant.
“They have to be a certain style of finishing of house, they have to be a certain square footage and their yards have to be landscaped to a certain standard, ” said Simpson.
“Whereas there is no guarantee that the landowners subdividing would oppose the same requirements. If those landowners were to want debate on that, it would become an issue. The county wouldn’t be able to come involved in that.”
Jeffrey Dowling, the county’s director of municipal services, says if the bylaw were to be postponed, then it would give the applicant and the adjacent landowners two years to work out their issues.
Council had a motion on the floor to defeat the land use amendment at second reading, which was passed. The Van Maarions will have to wait six months to re-apply for their land use.