Frustrated developer appeals to county over ‘small farm’ idea

A Red Deer developer frustrated with “bureaucratic red tape” is appealing directly to Red Deer County’s mayor and council to hear him out.

A Red Deer developer frustrated with “bureaucratic red tape” is appealing directly to Red Deer County’s mayor and council to hear him out.

Serge Stelmack has proposed creating a subdivision near Sylvan Lake geared to small farm operations, such as dog or horse training facilities, you-pick operations or greenhouses.

It’s an idea that Stelmack argues fits in with the current agriculture zoning on the 60-acre site and would meet a local need for smaller scale farms.

County planners, though, will recommend rejecting the proposal, since it is considered a third parcel out on the property and under county rules it requires an area structure plan, said Cynthia Cvik, the county’s director of planning and development services.

The proposal is also seen as similar to a previous residential subdivision application for the site from Stelmack that was turned down by council earlier this year.

Cvik notes that the proposed development increases density and involves housing being built as part of a multi-lot subdivision.

Under county rules, an 18-month waiting period is required before coming forward with a similar application.

Stelmack argues the agricultural subdivision is not similar to the previous proposal to build 34 acreages. It is a different concept with 11 lots and the 18-month period should not apply.

He also doesn’t see the need for an area structure plan, saying it would be “unnecessary and costly and time-consuming plan that doesn’t serve any purpose.” Those plans also can’t be appealed, so if it is shot down at council he would have no other recourse.

Stelmack is taking his fight public. He plans to take out a quarter-page advertisement in the Red Deer Advocate making his case through an open letter to the mayor and council.

The letter points out that planning staff “seem highly resistant to our proposal” and asks council members to “review our application carefully and with open minds.”

County manager Curtis Herzberg sees the proposal to create small agriculture holdings as just an “attempt to try to get his land developed, in my mind.

“He’s trying to usurp the rules. He doesn’t like the answer he was given and he’s trying to come up with a new way to package it up to put it forward and either have it approved or something that he can appeal.”

Herzberg is also skeptical that there is a need for the small farm developments the developer envisions.

“We haven’t seen that. There’s plenty of land here that can handle those types of developments.

“I find it very interesting that this same land, in his first application, was being proposed for residential zoning because the applicant felt at that time it was not suitable for agriculture.”

Stelmack said he is planning to gather support for his proposal and encourage people to email the county mayor.

Under county rules, a subdivision decision must be made within 60 days and the application is expected to go before council in six to eight weeks.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

40 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta

Province’s central zone still has no active cases

Red Deerians protest against racism on Saturday

Hundreds filled Red Deer City Hall Park to protest against racism Saturday.… Continue reading

Alberta reports just seven new COVID-19 cases

‘Today’s numbers mark an occasion to be celebrated’

PHOTO: Food Truck Drive and Dash in Red Deer

Food Truck Fridays launched its new drive-thru style event this week. Throughout… Continue reading

Golden Circle executive director shaves head, raises more than $11,000

The executive director of the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre has shaved… Continue reading

‘Just went crazy:’ Group gets lots of interest in random camping on public land

EDMONTON — Ryan Epp started a Facebook group in early April to… Continue reading

Some things are best avoided

There are some things you just shouldn’t do. Even on a double-dog… Continue reading

Peter Nunoda: Red Deer College has plenty to celebrate

Friday, we celebrated Red Deer College’s 56th graduating class. It looked different… Continue reading

More protests against anti-black racism expected across Canada today

Anti-racism demonstrators are expected to gather across Canada today to protest police… Continue reading

Cities brace for surge in turnout as George Floyd protests persist across U.S.

WASHINGTON — The outraged Americans flooding the national capital this weekend will… Continue reading

Feds sign $105-million deal with Bombardier for two new Challenger jets

Department of National Defence announced the deal with Bombardier on Saturday

‘It’s brewing’: Inmates, guards worry about violence after COVID-19 lockdown

‘Thirteen weeks in a cage the size of your (bathroom) has been pretty devastating’

Most Read