Owners of a Blissful Beach property got an unpleasant surprise recently when they tried to sell.
Unlike all of their neighbours, their undeveloped lakeshore lot had no access to Sylvan Lake, which was cut off by an environmental reserve (ER). Not having access to the lake, would have affected their selling price.
So, the owners took their case to Lacombe County council, which pondered the issue last Thursday.
Lake access and the methods lakeshore property owners have taken to connect to the lake has been a long-running issue. After residents complained in 2006 that property owners were using county reserve land as private property, the county surveyed what was out there.
What they found was that the problem was widespread. Stairs, decks, docks, sheds and other structures — some of them quite elaborate — were widespread around Sylvan and Gull Lakes.
“It became a fairly big problem for us,” Phil Lodermeier, county operations manager, told council.
The county cracked down and property owners were ordered to remove their “encroachments.” But in some cases, more environmental damage would be done to remove structures than would be done by allowing them to stay put.
To address those situations, the county introduced a 10-year licence agreement allowing the structures to remain if the owner paid a fee and provided insurance that also covered any county liability.
“I think we’re pretty close to getting everything removed that can be removed and licensing everything where appropriate,” said Lodermeier.
Since lot 19 had never been developed, no encroachment agreement was ever sought.
“In the case of Blissful Beach we have 24 lots with direct lake access and 13 of them through an ER so not allowing the last lot to have access seems difficult to justify under the protecting the environment rationale,” says a report to council.
County planning staff said while making exceptions to policies can be problematic, Lodermeier said it makes sense for lot 19.
Council agreed and voted to direct county staff to enter into an encroachment agreement with the owners of lot 19, which will allow them to build an access to the lake.