Cabins re-zoning defeated after Kneehill County councillor switches votes

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

A property owner’s re-zoning application was defeated on third reading after a councillor changed her mind and voted against the request after voting in favour of it a few moments before.

Coun. Faye McGhee voted in support of second reading of Bejay and Melanie Baerg’s application to rezone property near the Hamlet of Linden for a family retreat and campground along with acreages but a few moments later voted against third reading, defeating the application.

Kneehill County Planning and Development Officer Brandy Hay-Morgan presented the application to councillors, including recent details such as the results of the public hearing.

“Bejay and Melanie Baerg are looking to create two specific uses on the SW 16-30-25-W4,” stated Hay-Morgan in her report. “They would like to redesignate a portion of their land to Country Residential District (CR) and another portion to Recreation District (R).

“The remainder of the land will continue to be zoned Agriculture District. The property itself is located just over one mile south of Linden.

“The applicants are also wanting to redesignate a 7.2-acre area as a family retreat with some Airbnb cabins and a common kitchen/assembly hall with the potential for a few RV hookups. They will be utilizing some of the historic looking buildings currently on this site for this purpose.

“These buildings will be relocated further to the east on this property and directly south of the Kneehill Creek. This land is currently pastureland.”

Hay-Morgan noted the Sept. 13 public hearing resulted in changes to the application.

“The planning and development department recommended during the hearing to remove the low-lying area from the lands designated for the proposed country residential development which would reduce the country residential area to approximately 19-acres from the original 28-acres,” stated the county planner.

“This would allow for a minimum five-lot country residential development on lands in the southeast corner of the quarter that fall south of a watershed arm that flows into the Kneehill Creek.”

Hay-Morgan noted during the application the owner of a neighbouring intensive feedlot operation (ILO) raised concerns about its ability to grow in the future if acreages were nearby. Hay-Morgan stated it is a poultry operation.

Hay-Morgan noted there are already three other residences closer to the poultry operation than the proposed acreages would be, and an agreement with Linden already affects the ILO’s growth.

“This property currently falls within one mile of the Intermunicipal Development Plan boundary with Linden which was approved in October of 2019,” noted Hay-Morgan’s report. “So, expansion is already restricted for this operation.”

Coun. Carrie Fobes stated she was concerned about the recreation zoning and what could be potentially developed there in the future, adding she “…struggled with that.” Fobes was also concerned about two zone changes in one bylaw.

Hay-Morgan responded the two different recreation types, recreation major and minor, have different permitted uses, which are automatically approved, and discretionary, which rely on the county’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) discretion and require approval. Major recreation usually involves large crowds of spectators, noted Hay-Morgan, and minor uses usually don’t.

Coun. Laura Lee Machell-Cunningham asked about possible RV spots to which Hay-Morgan responded the applicants submitted a letter of intent quoting 12 RV spots, and if they wanted 15, for example, they’d have to file another application for that.

Reeve Jerry Wittstock stated there are already acreages within that municipality and all of them are located off pavement, so that mitigates the dust concern. The reeve noted the site is only two miles from a composting operation that Wittstock said elicited “…very valid complaints” to the county and he hesitated to see more residences near that. Wittstock noted there were feedlots in the area too.

“I’m concerned, I guess,” said Wittstock.

Coun. Ken King noted there are other residences near the site in question with Hay-Morgan noting there is country residential slowly being developed east of Linden.

Wittstock responded both of those examples were developed before the composting operation but this application was being proposed afterwards.

Coun. Debbie Penner stated she didn’t have a problem with the application because Kneehill County is known for feedlots and felt there probably wasn’t a spot in the county where feedlot odours aren’t around. She added real estate people doing due diligence should advise potential acreage owners of this.

Coun. King stated property owners have a right to develop their land and it’s good to see Kneehill County grow and prosper.

Coun. Machell-Cunningham noted councillors should remember neighbours with existing operations also have rights.

Coun. McGhee moved second reading, which passed by a 4 to 3 vote, McGhee, King, Penner and Coun. Wade Christie in favour, Machell-Cunningham, Fobes and Wittstock opposed.

Coun. Christie moved third reading, which was defeated by a 3 to 4 vote, McGhee, Machell-Cunningham, Wittstock and Fobes voting against.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.