The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) approved a development permit for a front yard garage although the municipality’s chief planning document technically doesn’t allow that. The decision was made at the June 28 regular MPC meeting.
The MPC is comprised of members of county council and is chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.
Board members read a development permit application submitted by property owners Dustin and Lauretta Borbandy for a parcel located at Lot 50 Block 2 Plan 072 0960 in the Rochon Sands Heights subdivision at Buffalo Lake which was presented by Planner Rich Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald explained the property owners are building a house and wanted a development permit for a garage, but the garage needed to be located in the front yard rather than the back.
“To consider a permitted use development permit application for an ancillary building (garage-standard size) with a variance to allow it to be placed in the front yard, and a variance to reduce the front yard setback from 25 feet (7.62 m) to 18 feet (5.4 m) a 28 per cent reduction,” noted Fitzgerald in his memo to council.
“The applicant has a permit for and is currently in the final stages of constructing a dwelling on the subject property. The applicant has now submitted an application to construct a 660 square foot garage in the front yard of the property.
“Due to the placement and size of the dwelling, access to the rear of the property by vehicle is not possible without trespassing on neighbouring lands.”
During discussion Fitzgerald showed board members a bird’s eye view of the parcel, with the house in the centre of the lot, illustrating the lack of space for a vehicle to access the parcel’s back yard. Hence the property owner proposed locating the garage in the front yard, which required special permission from the MPC.
“Section 43.12 of the County of Stettler Land Use Bylaw (LUB) states that in a multi-lot subdivision, a detached ancillary building or any part there of, shall not be placed in the front yard,” stated Fitzgerald in his report.
The planner noted the application was proposing reduced setbacks for the garage but locating the structure in the front yard shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, although there was a concern voiced about a nearby gas metre and another regarding the water shutoff valve which is also located in the front yard.
“There is a utility right of way along the front of the subject property,” stated the planner. “The proposed improvement does not extend into the right of way and the applicant has provided a letter from the utility company indicating they have no issue with the development, provided that the development stays a minimum of 1 m away from the utility.
“The applicant has made arrangements with the utility company to relocate the gas meter to accommodate this requirement.
“The application was referred out to administration, and environmental services expressed concern about the proximity of the water shut off valve to the proposed garage. A condition has been added to address this issue, and if the ancillary building encroaches the water shut off valve, it will be required to be moved and placed on the county side of the property line at the applicant’s expense.”
Coun. Nibourg asked if there would be a record kept of this agreement so everyone in the future knows what was agreed to. Fitzgerald responded the water valve will be moved before the garage is built as a condition of the development permit, so a record shouldn’t be necessary.
Board members unanimously approved the development permit application with conditions.
After the vote, board members discussed the county’s upcoming LUB review and possibly tweaking the “no detached front yard garages” rule, at least for lake communities. It was noted such a rule may still be appropriate in hamlets.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 06, 2023