County rejects ‘small farms’

A developer trying to create a subdivision in Red Deer County geared to small farm operations failed to sway council on Tuesday.

A developer trying to create a subdivision in Red Deer County geared to small farm operations failed to sway council on Tuesday.

Serge Stelmack’s proposal to subdivide a 60-acre site near Sylvan Lake into 11 agricultural lots was unanimously rejected on a number of grounds.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood pointed out that an area structure plan was required and to approve the subdivision would be going against the county’s own rules.

Councillors also pointed out the developer had not waited the necessary 18 months since his last subdivision proposal was turned down in June.

That project involved the creation of 34 country residential lots, but was nixed by council because of concerns that the low-lying ground was not suitable for housing.

Coun. Penny Archibald said the 18-month wait period was meant to prevent rejected developments from being changed slightly and brought back to the county repeatedly to try to get approval.

“We did that for a reason,” she said.

Coun. George Gehrke said the project has some merit but pointed to the wait period as grounds for denial.

“Unfortunately, it was before us in the summer, and it was denied,” he said, adding the developer was welcome to reapply after 18 months.

A frustrated Stelmack said the wait period does not apply because the new proposal is dramatically different than the housing application.

“It wasn’t the same application. This is agriculture, not country residential,” he said following council’s decision.

“That’s nonsense.”

The proposed development would have included four-to-6.4-acre lots on a 60-acre site just southeast of Sylvan Lake that could be used for small agricultural businesses such as raising honey bees, dog or horse training facilities, you-pick farms, greenhouses or even country-style bed and breakfasts.

Stelmack also doesn’t believe an area structure plan is required because the subdivision is not for residential, commercial or industrial use.

The developer, who took out newspaper advertisements last month calling on council members to look at his proposal with “open minds,” was incensed that council made its decision without hearing from him on Tuesday.

“I was shocked I was not even given a chance to speak.”

County manager Curtis Herzberg said an area structure plan is required for all subdivisions, including those for agriculture. The plan is also a requirement of Alberta Transportation.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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