Gravel pit rejected for fourth time

A proposed gravel pit near Markerville has been rejected a fourth time. Red Deer County’s subdivision and development appeal board rejected an appeal launched by Wendell Miller of 6M Holdings Ltd., who wants to build a gravel pit on 28 acres next to the Medicine River south of Markerville.

A proposed gravel pit near Markerville has been rejected a fourth time.

Red Deer County’s subdivision and development appeal board rejected an appeal launched by Wendell Miller of 6M Holdings Ltd., who wants to build a gravel pit on 28 acres next to the Medicine River south of Markerville.

His application was turned down in June by the county’s municipal planning commission. A previous application — much larger in scope — was turned down in 2010, and an appeal also failed.

A group of nearby landowners has been fighting against the project, arguing it is on a floodway, could damage an aquifer and fish habitat and would create noise, dust and traffic problems.

Submissions were made to the board by both sides during a two-day appeal hearing earlier this month.

In its decision dated Monday, the appeal board says it is “not satisfied that the proposed development would be an appropriate development with the ESA (Environmentally Significant Areas),” a county designation that protects certain areas from “inappropriate development.”

The board says it had concerns with the impact of the development on groundwater and the Medicine River and a report from 6M’s consultants was not a “quantified assessment of the proposed gravel pit on ground water resources.”

Potential flooding was also highlighted as a concern. The board notes a berm proposed in the earlier application was not included in the scaled-down project. Eliminating the berm left “insufficient evidence” that conclusions reached in previous environmental studies that the project would not pose flooding problems remained valid.

“Additionally, the board was concerned about the noise generated by the proposed development and its impact on adjacent landowners,” says the decision, adding that the river valley carries and amplifies noise.

Traffic was also pointed out as a concern by the board, which says there wasn’t enough evidence on truck load numbers to conclude there would be no detrimental impact on surrounding landowners.

The Council of Canadians Red Chapter, which supported the landowners and submitted a letter in opposition to the gravel pit, applauded the appeal board’s decision.

“In spite of the ongoing strategy of firms wishing to quarry gravel almost everywhere, repeatedly proposing mines and appealing denials in the hope they will grind down the finances and resolve of the local citizens, a proposed gravel mine in a shallow aquifer west of Innisfail, Alberta, has again been denied,” says treasurer Ken Collier in a statement.

The council opposed the project because of its potential impact on an aquifer that runs through the pit area.

Proponent Miller was reached on Tuesday but said he preferred not to comment until he had a chance to read the decision.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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