The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) gave its approval to a property owner’s private campground after it was found the site originally didn’t have a development permit or a certified sewer system. The decision was made at the May 24 regular meeting of the MPC.
The MPC is comprised of county council and chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.
County Planner Rich Fitzgerald presented the development permit application from Steven Chahley for a 5.84 acre parcel of land at NW-7-40-20-W4 to allow a recreational vehicle (RV) as a dwelling unit along with a variance to allow a second RV as a dwelling unit on the same parcel.
According to staff the RVs and septic tank were already there.
Fitzgerald noted the land is currently zoned agriculture.
“During site inspections last fall, planning staff noted that two RVs were present on the property, and appeared to be in use,” stated Fitzgerald’s report.
“Planning staff spoke to the landowner who indicated that he and his family were using the lot to come camping on weekends.
Planning staff advised the landowner that a development permit was required to continue using the RV’s on the property.”
Fitzgerald noted the property owner submitted an application in spring but wasn’t complete, missing information about wastewater disposal.
“Planning staff advised the applicant at that time that the RVs would be required to be connected to a certified wastewater system and their site plan needed to indicate what type of system was going to be used, and where it would be located,” stated the planner’s report. “No contact was received from the applicant for several weeks.
“Planning staff then became aware that earthworks was taking place on the property. The landowner was contacted at that time and advised a stop order may be issued for the property if the landowner continued to develop the lot without the benefit of a permit.”
Fitzgerald reported the property owner then submitted a site plan that included the location of a septic tank and it was later revealed after a site inspection that the property owner already installed the septic tank himself, “…and was unable to provide the certification for the system.
“Planning staff also noted that no access port was visible in which to be able to empty the holding tank.”
Fitzgerald pointed out the impromptu campground also required a roadside development permit from the Alberta government because the site was within 300 metres of a provincial highway. Apparently the property owner has applied for this but has yet to receive it.
The applicant Chahley attended the MPC meeting by phone, and the chair explained to him that the first RV required a development permit, the second one required a variance, the septic tank required installation by properly certified people and the roadside development permit was needed, to all of which Chahley stated he understood.
Fitzgerald noted that among the many conditions included in a possible approval one of the biggest was the wastewater tank that’s already buried on the site must be inspected by a certified contractor.
Coun. Justin Stevens asked if the approach into the parcel needs work. Fitzgerald answered the approach is fine as it was built by the county at the parcel’s creation.
During discussion it was pointed out the parcel in question is inside the Buffalo Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan but outside the growth node.
Reeve Larry Clarke stated the wastewater tank must be inspected and that the county has no idea where connecting pipes are going.
Chahley stated during the meeting he wasn’t aware the wastewater tank needed certification. He stated it will be inspected properly and, because it’s buried, it’ll probably have to be dug up.
Coun. Les Stulberg asked if Chahley plans to build a house on the site and Chahley answered no, the parcel was purchased to be used as a summer campground for he and his family. Chahley added other family members may visit the site over summer as well.
Chair Nibourg stated that the County of Stettler has had issues with campgrounds over the years and there has been a public backlash against such developments.
Board members discussed the possibility of Chahley camping on the site before development permit conditions are met.
Board members eventually voted 5 to 2 in favour of approving Chahley’s development permit application including the variance but with a number of conditions including that the site can’t be occupied until the wastewater and roadside development permit are straightened out.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 01, 2023