Markerville gravel pit appeal fails

A proposed Markerville-area gravel pit, which was opposed by nearby residents, will not be going ahead.

A proposed Markerville-area gravel pit, which was opposed by nearby residents, will not be going ahead.

Backers of the project on 126 acres in Red Deer County just southeast of Markerville lost their appeal of a September municipal planning commission decision to reject the gravel pit.

The pit would have been developed in phases over at least 15 years.

The county’s subdivision and development appeal board determined that the gravel pit operation would “not be compatible with the adjacent existing residential uses and agricultural use due to the industrial nature of this proposed development and the nuisances it would create, specifically dust and noise from the extraction, processing and hauling of the aggregate.”

The board goes on to say it was not satisfied that measures meant to reduce the racket, such as blanketing crushing equipment, would adequately address noise issues.

Proposed hours of operation for hauling and crushing at the pit would result in “intolerable” nuisances to nearby rural residents, says the decision.

It had been proposed the pit would operate six days a week from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Concerns were also expressed by the board with the proximity of the proposed gravel pit to the Medicine River and Dickson Creek, although the board acknowledged it was not an expert on the technical evidence presented regarding the project’s environmental impact.

Allowing a pit to be carved out so close to waterways is not considered good planning “given that at some point either may spill over their banks and flood waters would naturally be directed to this low area, which would be proximate to the Telford residence in particular,” says the decision.

Phase 2 of the gravel operation was to take place in a flood fringe area.

The proponents said that would be protected with a berm, but the board expressed doubt that would prove adequate “or that adequate flood proofing is possible.”

Residents in the area have been strongly opposed to the gravel operation.

At a Sept. 21 municipal planning commission hearing, Suzanne Telford said if the project went ahead, she would have to sell her house and leave.

Resident Pat Hanson feared the dust thrown up by the pit would be harmful to a son, who has chronic lung disease.

The noise of the operation would also bother another child, who has autism and is extremely sensitive to noise.

Proponents Wendell and Ileen Miller said their project had been designed to reduce the impact on area residents and was designed with safeguards in case of flooding on nearby waterways.

Besides berms, a 30-metre setback from the river and creek was proposed.

It was also pointed out at a Jan. 10 appeal hearing that the project would have to meet the stringent requirements of Alberta Environment and federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Neither the Millers nor those opposed to the gravel pit could be reached for comment on Wednesday.

pcowley@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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