County examines RV resort controls

Lacombe County councillors are looking for a little visual help in determining the right and wrong ways to control RV resort development.

Lacombe County councillors are looking for a little visual help in determining the right and wrong ways to control RV resort development.

The county is wrestling with a new RV resort bylaw that is designed to prevent the “overdevelopment” of RV resorts. Under the proposed rules, restrictions have been put on the size and number of buildings allowed, the amount of a lot that can be developed, and other regulations meant to maintain the seasonal nature of the resorts.

On Thursday, council was shown photographs of the Whispering Pines on Pine Lake, where large cottages have been allowed in areas initially envisioned as RV-style resorts.

“This is something our bylaw is not considering,” said Jolene Tejkl, assistant planner for the county. “We want to prohibit something like this.”

The Rainy Shores RV development on Gull Lake was closer to what the county has in mind, said Tejkl.

Councillor Rod McDermand has concerns about how the county can prevent the overdevelopment of sites, even with the proposed bylaw changes. RV resorts could quickly look overcrowded if owners fill their lots with vehicles, boats and structures.

“You can junk (lots) up until you can call them an RV sales lot — because they’re stacked, that’s my concern.”

McDermand said with some huge RV resort developments looming for the county, council must be sure its bylaw is going in the right direction.

A number of RV developments are in the early stages. Skyy Country is proposing 423 lots next to Sunbreaker Cove on Sylvan Lake and DeGraff’s Builtgreen Resort proposed 500 lots. An RV resort proposed for Sandy Point on Gull Lake could ultimately include 1,500 lots and a 27-hole golf course.

Councillor Cliff Soper pointed to summer villages as an example of how developments can grow beyond their original purpose. Once, summer villages were seasonal recreational getaways for people who lived elsewhere. They have since become permanent year-round communities.

The word “seasonal” was taken out of the bylaw because the county has no legal right to tell people when they can use their property. It’s a change that Soper suggested could cause problems.

“I have concerns that in actual fact we’re really building a village,” he said.

County Reeve Terry Engen suggested council take a tour of some existing RV resorts to get a better sense of what the county wanted its bylaw to support. The tour is expected to take place on June 30.

The RV resort bylaw would then come back to council for second reading. First reading was passed at an earlier meeting.

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