Property owners dig in heels against proposed gravel pit

A proposed gravel pit will provide no benefit to residents while saddling them with noise, dust and traffic problems, say Red Deer County property owners.

A proposed gravel pit will provide no benefit to residents while saddling them with noise, dust and traffic problems, say Red Deer County property owners.

About 30 residents attended county council’s meeting on Tuesday to show their opposition to a proposal to build a gravel pit on a pair of quarter sections owned by the Pine Hill Hutterite Colony about five km west of Springbrook.

The first phase of the pit will be 12 acres and will be reclaimed as additional phases happen.

Council approved first reading of a Land Use Bylaw amendment to include the area in a gravel overlay district, a necessary step for the project to go ahead. A public hearing is set for July 5.

Vince Ohama lives along Burnt Lake Trail, which would be a gravel truck route if the pit is approved, and said dozens of residents are against the project.

Ohama said there has been an “overwhelmingly negative response” among property owners who will be affected by the gravel pit.

The value of their properties and their marketability will be affected.

Some owners could see the value of their properties drop by hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

“We feel that council should reject this application based on the multiple and cumulative combination of negative factors that exist in this (application),” he said outside council chambers.

Residents are concerned about safety on school bus routes when gravel trucks begin rumbling up and down Burnt Lake Trail and Range Road 28-4. The proposed haul road isn’t suitable for the kind of heavy traffic a gravel pit would create and the intersection at Burnt Lake Road and Range Road 28-4 is already “horrendous,” he added.

The effect of dust on the health of livestock and people is a worry and some are concerned the gravel pit could disrupt the aquifer county residents rely on for their water.

Ohama said residents feel there’s a question of fairness at stake. Why should dozens of landowners be affected by a project that benefits only the applicant, they argue.

“This is not NIMBY (not in my backyard),” he said. “I’m not anti-development. I am anti-unfairness.”

Wayne and Donna Arrison once owned the land that is proposed for the gravel pit. It was their best farmland and say it should not be turned over to industrial development.

The Arrisons are also concerned how the project will affect groundwater and family members who still live on nearby properties.

Danny Scott, who is working with the Hutterite Colony on their application, said the project won’t proceed until the county is satisfied that it has met all requirements. Among the work that would be done is a traffic impact assessment to ensure the haul route is suitable.

The county will provide necessary dust control and bill it back to the pit operator. Water will not be a concern, he said, adding more than 60 test holes on the hillside site did not hit water.

“Everything has to be addressed before it’s approved,” said Scott. “This isn’t going to happen overnight. There are a lot of steps to go through.”

In a letter that went out to adjacent landowners, the county says besides dust control a noise impact assessment will be required because there is a residence withing 800 metres of the proposed pit boundary.

The pit would operate 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days per week, closed on Sundays and statutory holidays. Crushing and screening would be limited to 10 weeks per year.

A public hearing has been set for July 5 at Red Deer County Centre.

pcowley@www.reddeeradvocate.com