Development issues in the M.D: the fun continues

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

When it comes to developing rural property, there is a fairly large gap between the expectations of the developer and the expectations of the municipality. M.D. council got another illustration of that in a report at its June 28 meeting.
Planning and development manager Jill Tapp informed council her department has received 49 development permit applications this year up to June 22. Twenty-seven are for accessory buildings, seven are for industrial applications, seven are for recreational development and six are for single-family dwellings.
Tapp also provided council with a list of ‘issues’ that indicate the processing of some of these permits is anything but straightforward, easy or quick.
For example: geotechnical reports are sometimes required. This requirement may not be welcome, but there are serious liability concerns, for example when a building collapses due to “defects on the land.” Check out Bowes vs. the City of Edmonton, Tapp advised, for “a scary example.” This is a case where a piece of land slid into the North Saskatchewan River, with a house on it.
Another issue: “We receive many incomplete permit applications, or applications for development that is in contravention of the Land Use Bylaw,” says Tapp in her written report. “We also receive applications where the development is proposed on land that does not belong to the applicant: on easements, on road right of ways and on public land.”
Sometimes even on neighbouring private land, Tapp added.
Tapp said her department attempts to work with applicants to get their paperwork in line with what’s required.
Councillor Brad Pearson said he’s been hearing from would-be developers frustrated by the process.
“The applicant needs to know what requirements need to be met,” he said. “In letter form, with timelines.”
Tapp went on to report she is dealing with 34 open development files from past years, some of which seem to be dragging on, unresolved. She said she’s creating a list of what needs to be done on each and communicating that to the applicants.
“It doesn’t always help!” she said, adding that sometimes the applicant simply refuses to comply.
Speaking of non-compliant developments, Winarski said there are lots out there, and the M.D. is gradually compiling a list.
“We’ve got everything,” he said. “Riding arenas in residential neighbourhoods, mini-sawmills in residential neighbourhoods.”
This led to the latest installment of a never-ending council discussion about ‘shops’ vs. ‘garages’ in residential land-use zones; what’s allowed and what isn’t.
“It boils down to end use,” said councillor Pearson.
Last word to Winarski: “There are some structures in this M.D. that are going to come down. When you blatantly do something when you’ve been told not to….. stay tuned.”

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