Red Deer city council stepped into unfamiliar, agricultural territory by narrowly approving a site exception that could allow a 10-acre RV storage yard in east Red Deer.
Council debated whether such a yard was compatible with surrounding farming operations. They also deliberated on whether neighbours’ concerns about traffic and safety should be dealt with at the council stage or development permit stage.
Eventually, Councillors Buck Buchanan, Ken Johnston, Frank Wong and Dianne Wyntjes opposed the site exception — even though administration had recommended approval.
But the majority of councillors — Michael Dawe, Tanya Handley, Lawrence Lee, Vesna Higham and Mayor Tara Veer — gave it the go-ahead. They gave final reading for the site exception on Monday, on condition that a two-year sunset clause be applied, allowing the storage yard to be reconsidered in a couple of years, in light of neighbours’ concerns.
A landowner wants to create a storage site for recreational vehicles and trailers on part of an 80-acre parcel off Range Road 270 (south of Township Road 382).
This annexed city land, zoned for future residential development, is located about one kilometre east of the Laredo neighbourhood. It requires a site exception because outdoor storage is not a listed use in the A-1 Future Urban Development District.
Planning manager Emily Damberger told council that an RV storage yard could be accommodated, creating an opportunity for efficient land use that doesn’t hinder future development and leaves no permanent structures.
Several councillors admitted considering development for A-1 zoned land is new terrain for council.
Johnston and Wong stated they do not feel RV storage is compatible with surrounding agricultural operations.
They noted the proposal is unpopular with adjacent neighbours, who are farmers. Six of nine neighbours sent the city letters of opposition, citing concerns about vandalism and traffic.
Wyntjes and Buchanan did not like being in the dark about whether the paved rural road is up to handling the traffic to and from the storage yard. Council was told city planners hadn’t yet done a traffic count and weren’t aware of how many RVs, trailer and boats the landowner intended to store in the yard.
While these questions would be answered at the development permit stage, Buchanan likened this to “closing the barn door once the horse is let out.” He also had security concerns as a dwelling is not located near the proposed yard
But the majority of councillors were comfortable in allow the site exception for a two-year period.
Lee said vehicles would only come and go from the site at a couple of peak periods in spring and fall. “I’m convinced it is not detrimental. This would be assisting the landowner to get maximum use for the land.”
Handley was glad the proposed storage yard was relocated to the open, southern portion of the land, away from where it was initially proposed on forested land to the north, which serves as a wildlife corridor.
Mayor Tara Veer called it “rare” for council to consider proposals for A-1 land. “We don’t have a lot of experience with this,” but council will deal with it more as the city grows, she predicted.