Lacombe County is taking another look at a contentious Land Use Bylaw change that would allow second homes on much smaller properties.
An amendment to the bylaw would have reduced to 10 acres from 40 acres the size of a property where a second dwelling might be allowed.
Opinion was divided at a public hearing on the bylaw changes last month.
Among those in support was a couple who live on about 15 acres and would be able to have their son join them on the property if the 10-acre minimum was accepted.
Another landowner said it would bring in more people, boost county taxes and reduce the demand for subdividing rural properties.
Former Lacombe County reeve Paula Law was strongly opposed, pointing out it was only five years ago the threshold was reduced to 40 acres from 80 acres. Allowing more homes on small properties increases the chances of conflicts between those who live off the land and those seeking a quiet country home.
The change could affect as many as 800 properties, she estimated.
On Thursday, county council opted to remove the second dwelling before passing the amended Land Use Bylaw. Council directed administration to prepare a report on the proposed amendment and what options there were to get more public consultation.
Coun. Brenda Knight said she had received many calls from rural residents peeved that the issue had been dealt with during a time when most farmers were busy seeding.
“That was a lot of the crux of their concerns, that the timing was terrible,” she said.
Residents told her they wanted to see new homes built in hamlets or existing subdivisions rather than agricultural properties.
“I think they’re on the right track with those thoughts,” said Knight.
Agricultural areas are affected when non-farmers begin moving into an area, she said. “They think differently than agricultural producers do.”
Coun. Dana Kreil agreed that ratepayers need another opportunity to have a say.
“I think the second residence on 10 acres needs a lot more public input, and definitely at a better time of year.”
County staff plan to come back to council with a separate bylaw specifically dealing with the second dwelling proposal and options for more public consultation.