A Buffalo Lake RV owner will have to remove the roof on a wooden deck as the County of Stettler MPC denied a variance request April 26. ECA Review/SubmittedStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) denied a request from a Buffalo Lake recreational vehicle (RV) owner to allow a covered deck for their RV. The decision was made at the April 26 MPC meeting.

The MPC is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.

Board members read a request for a variance to the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) for a property described as Lot 15 Block 2 Plan 062 0307 in Rochon Sands Heights, with the owner listed as Elisabeth Sherman but applicant listed as Michael Brenner.

Development Officer Rich Fitzgerald noted the request was, “To consider a variance application to allow a covered deck as an addition to an RV being used as a dwelling unit in the Resort Residential Communally Serviced District.

“The property is located in the resort residential communally serviced district in the County of Stettler. The proposed use of an addition of a deck to an RV is a permitted use in this district. However, the applicant is proposing to use a covered deck. 

Section 76.4 (f) of the LUB states that in the Rochon Sands Heights subdivision, an addition to a recreational vehicle shall be limited to a ground level uncovered deck.”

At a previous MPC meeting board members stated deck covers are not allowed because many neighbours complain about their appearance, especially if the RV is moved and the deck remains.

Fitzgerald, who included photographs of the RV, deck and cover to board members, stated county staff were in that neighbourhood doing inspections when they noticed the covered deck next to the RV in question.

Fitzgerald stated county staff then looked up the development permit for that lot and found that it only allowed a wooden deck without a cover or roof.

The development officer stated county staff then contacted the deck owner and advised them of their options, which likely included removing the deck cover or applying to the MPC for a variance to allow the deck roof to remain.

Fitzgerald noted the deck owner chose to apply to the MPC for a variance.

Coun. Justin Stevens asked if this property was previously granted a variance in the past by the County of Stettler “…for the age of the RV.” 

Stevens added that he recalled that the owners asked for a variance allowing the older RV to remain because they had plans to build a residence on that site.

Readers should note the County of Stettler has rules in place restricting the age of RVs in these situations.

Fitzgerald responded Stevens was correct, adding that the permit currently in effect allows the older RV to remain on-site until the fall of 2023 and if the owners wish to have the RV remain they will have to apply for a development permit for a permanent dwelling. The RV could remain on site until construction is complete.

Coun. James Nibourg noted that the MPC recently heard a request similar to this one, “…and we forced them to pull the top off the deck.” Fitzgerald nodded.

The development officer stated that the property owners stated they intend to build a permanent dwelling on this site so removing the deck covering shouldn’t have a major effect on them.

During discussion there was some confusion over how to respond to the request for a variance. The planning staff stated their recommendation was to approve the deck itself, which meets the LUB rules, but note the cover is not allowed.

Board members unanimously approved that recommendation.

County of Stettler approves ‘guest ranch’ buildings for farm

The County of Stettler MPC approved a development permit application to allow a local farm to use these buildings as a kitchen and freezer. ECA Review/SubmittedStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) approved a development permit application looking to add guest ranch cooking facilities to a local farm. The decision was made at the April 26 regular MPC meeting.

The MPC is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.

Board members pondered an application by Marc Jongerden of Jongerden Holdings located at Lot I Blk 1 Plan 142 5191 who was seeking a “discretionary use” type development permit to change the use of several buildings on or soon to be on his farm.

County Planner Rich Fitzgerald presented the application to councillors. 

“The subject property is located southeast of Erskine in the County of Stettler and is 5.36 acres in size,” stated his report to council.

“The applicant has operated a general store with an onsite greenhouse, chicken barn and petting zoo since 2022. The general store sells mostly locally made products, and is open year-round. There is also a large garden on the property which provides vegetables for the general store during summer months. 

A sea-can converted to living quarters is currently located on the property that the operators are living in.”

During discussion Fitzgerald noted board members may be more familiar with the operation’s business name, Ford’s Farmstead, and added that changing the use of several buildings didn’t involve bringing in anything new.

“The applicant is proposing to change the use of an existing ancillary building on the property,” stated Fitzgerald’s report. “The current permit allows the ancillary building to be used as storage. 

The applicant is proposing to change the use of the building to a kitchen facility to prepare ready made meals and baking to be sold onsite in the rural convenience store. This use falls under the definition of a value-added agricultural industry.

“The applicant is also proposing to convert two 8’x12’ sea-cans to refrigerator units. One sea-can is currently located on the property and is currently being used as storage. 

The proposed location of the sea-cans will be behind the proposed kitchen facility, and exceeds the minimum setback requirements of the district.”

Readers should note sea-cans, also called intermodel freight containers, are steel containers originally designed for shipping cargo and commonly converted for storage. Some communities regulate their use as some members of the public have complained that sea-cans are unattractive.

Fitzgerald noted the application meets all of the requirements of the County of Stettler’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) and added that other county departments were consulted on the application and had no objections. 

However, the recommendation to approve also contained a number of conditions including the project must follow the site plan submitted by the applicants, setbacks for the buildings must be followed, additional signage must get its own development permit and “The exterior of the sea-cans must be finished in such a way as to match the look of the other buildings located on the property within one year of being placed on the property,” among other conditions.

Ford’s Farmstead representative Sharon Jongerden acknowledged the sea-cans needed some work. “They are pretty ugly,” she said at the meeting, adding the applicants will improve the sea-can’s appearance.

Councillors unanimously approved the development permit application with the list of conditions.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Published on May 04, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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