A Wilson’s Beach resident is concerned RV resort regulations proposed in Lacombe County will do little to stop over-development.
Cindy Girard, who has been active in lobbying for the protection of Gull Lake, said land-use bylaw changes being considered by the county will restrict over-development of individual lots in a resort, but not on the overall site.
Under the R-RVR zoning, golf courses, marinas, restaurants, cafes, campgrounds and community facilities are considered discretionary uses, meaning they require the approval of the municipal planning commission but are not prohibited.
Allowing such a broad range of commercial uses opens the door to turning RV resorts into more intensive, year-round developments, Girard fears. There also would be a greater environmental impact on rural areas and the lakes.
“In no way, by any stretch of the imagination could it possibly limit over-development in an RV-zoned area,” she said of the bylaw.
Girard also pointed out that the proposed bylaw makes no mention of seasonal residential use, which she believes implies that there is the potential for year-round living.
The county already has zoning in place where marinas and retail and commercial uses are allowed and she does not see the need for another zoning category.
Girard is also concerned that the public will not have the same opportunities to review proposals and speak to them at public hearings under the proposed land-use bylaw changes.
“It just seems like it’s a back-door process of getting developments through,” she said.
County assistant planner Jolene Tejkl said the purpose of the new bylaw is to create a zoning that is specific to the condominium-style RV resorts that are becoming increasingly popular. Council and planning staff will review each proposal on its own merits.
Commercial components and other features such as marinas are included as discretionary uses because they are commonly found in RV resorts and may be public or open only to resort lot owners. How much development is allowed is up to the discretion of the county, which would look at the impact on the surrounding area.
Tejkl said the county was considering removing “seasonal” from the bylaw because it has no way of enforcing how long residents stay on their sites, although typically RV resorts are summer getaways for lot owners.
The zoning bylaw prohibits basements and adding more than one accessory building as a way to maintain the seasonal nature of RV resorts.
In March, county council considered a number of changes to its land-use bylaws, some of which concerned RV resort developments. Council opted to take out the RV section and deal with it as a separate bylaw. It passed first reading in April.
Under proposed land use bylaw amendments, only 40 per cent of an RV lot can be covered by an RV and an accessory building, down from 65 per cent in previous bylaws.
A public hearing on the bylaw changes takes place at the Lacombe County office on May 14 at 9 a.m.