Goat farm debated at public hearing

Stettler Town Council opened up the public hearing for a potential rezoning of a property on the north end of Stettler on Tues. Sept. 4.

The applicant is proposing to rezone this parcel from an Urban Reserve Direct Control to Urban Reserve as the applicant wants to accommodate a few goats throughout the summer months.

In 2008, the property was zoned Urban Reserve; a group of property owners in the area requested the Town to rezone the land to a residential zoning, it was determined at the time that the intention of the area was to transition to Industrial and Council approved a rezoning to a Direct Control Urban Reserve to maintain the Urban Reserve purpose but to also allow for property enhancement as approved by Council.

In May of 2018, the Town received a complaint regarding the presence of goats at 4601 – 47 Avenue and the disturbance they were causing.

Through the process of Bylaw Enforcement, the property owner advised they would like to have goats on their property during the summer months and the ones that are present will be leaving by Oct. 15.

During this conversation, the property owner was advised that under the current zoning DC4, “farming” is not a permitted or discretionary use and therefore would not allow for the property owner to have goats or any form of livestock on their land.

The owner in turn applied to have this property rezoned back to Urban Reserve to allow for a “Farming” use.

No submissions were received in support of this new rezoning but three were opposed.

Town residents highlighted concerns like aggression, disease control, noise, attraction of predators and safety.

“Goats are known to be extremely good escape artists and the goats at 4601 – 47 Ave. have already been out, which was witnessed by multiple neighbours,” said Dallas Tudor in his letter of opposition.

“There is already a large amount of accidents on the corner, adding goats to the mix does not help. The goats will easily be run over, causing damages to vehicles and taking the goat’s life. With the train being right there it is also a concern that the livestock easily access the tracks.”

Chris Fix added “I want to object to the rezoning of the property right beside mine. I don’t want to be next to a farm. I don’t even like the three noisy goats that are there now. If they want a farm, they should move out of town.”

Shelly Hurley, one of the landowners, added in a verbal presentation that there is currently one nanny goat and two kids who have since been able to have shelter and other amenities like electric fencing to stop previous problems from happening again.

“At one time yes, we had the goat tethered because the goat did not have a shelter built for her and her two little kids were running loose,” explained Hurley. “When they got too far away from her she did bleat. We now have a shelter for her and an electric fence so none of them, any of them roam at large. As far as having them up by the house, they will be on the west side of our property. Our house is on the east of our property.”

Waste management was a key concern for nearby neighbours but was dispelled as goats have pellets rather than large, runny waste that can have an aromatic stench. They are also adjacent to a large drainage ditch as well.

Hurley also mentioned that the goats will eat the grass around the 4 1/2 acre property which can be seen as a fire hazard during drought and typically hot summer months.

CAO Greg Switenky explained the options to council as there was five minutes remaining for that particular public hearing.

There was no obligation to read second and third reading.

There was a mutual agreement to postpone to the Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on Tues. Sept. 11.

Signage bylaw

Mayor Nolls opened up the floor for a public hearing on bylaw 2108-18 which is a Bylaw regarding the Linear Park Designation. The town collected 19 letters in support and six opposed to this redesignation.

Please read, “Constant assault to the eyes” for full coverage of the public hearing.

Discretionary uses bylaw

At 8:05 p.m., Mayor Nolls opened up the third and final public hearing for a bylaw regarding land use districts and their definitions in regards to Land Use Districts under Section 84 which outlines definitions.

No written or verbal submissions for this bylaw were received by administration.

Administration wished to have Commercial Transitional District to include “Contracting Services – Minor” and “Contracting Services – Major” as discretionary uses. Council moved to approve second and third reading.

Apollo Lodge receives refund

Council approved a refund of the 2018 Municipal Property taxes for the Apollo Lodge #27 in the amount of $1,176.79 as allowed in the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

The town received a letter dated Aug. 20 from Donald Anderson, secretary for Apollo Lodge No. 27, requesting their customary refund of the municipal portion of their property taxes.

In previous years, the practice of Town Council has been to refund/ rebate the municipal portion of the property taxes for the Apollo Lodge.

The reason for this refund is that part of the Apollo Lodge is used and/ or accessible by the general community in a similar manner to other tax-exempt halls like town-owned property, churches or the legion.

Under the Municipal Government Act Sections 362 and 363, municipal owned community use buildings, churches and legions are mostly exempt from paying municipal and school portion of property taxes, however, the Apollo Lodge does not qualify for these exemptions under the MGA.

Therefore the Apollo Lodge would still be required to pay the Alberta School Foundation Fund.

The Town has been refunding a portion of property taxes to the Apollo Lodge since 1982. From 1982 to 1996 the tax refunds were based on the improvement portion of the Municipal Tax notice.

However, in 1997 administration did a review of all Municipal Taxes paid by non-profit organizations in Stettler. As a result of the review, council has refunded the municipal portion of the property taxes to the Apollo Lodge from 1997 to present.

Smoking bylaw

Council dived into the proposed smoking bylaw amendments which will include regulations on cannabis consumption

It was last dealt with in May of 2018 but was initially tabled as the town was attempting to anticipate provincial changes to the Alberta Cannabis Framework.

The cannabis consumption will fall under provincial legislation if the town has not made changes to the bylaw beforehand.

This bylaw being proposed strictly prohibits cannabis consumption in certain public areas throughout town. An outright prohibition of cannabis consumption, other than within private dwellings/property, may create a human rights challenge as it remains legally unclear.

Bylaw enforcement of cannabis consumption on a 24-hour basis will be a challenge and at this time it appears that there will be no provincial funding to assist municipalities either. Options were presented by Leann Graham, Director of Planning and Development, on how to proceed from this point.

Council had mixed feelings regarding the direction of the bylaw but then agreed to enter second reading which was then defeated.

They did this to give administration clear direction to prepare a new bylaw amendment based on council discussion at that specific meeting.

Administration brought the bylaw back to the Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting for further discussion.

“There are plenty of council meetings to address it,” said CAO Switenky.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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