By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
A manure bylaw is in front of Picture Butte town council again, but this time, it’s to allow for its use.
During Picture Butte town council’s regular April 23 meeting, they reviewed bylaw no. 868-18, whose purpose is to amend the town’s existing Land Use Bylaw.
Last fall, council had discussed a bylaw amendment to “regulate and clarify the regulations pertaining to extensive agriculture, the keeping of livestock and manure spreading within town limits” pertaining to Section A of the Land Use bylaw.
The purpose of the defeated bylaw was to provide clarity over the fact that agriculture manure was banned within town limits.
However, an uproar over the proposed bylaw by landowners within town limits — many of whom had said they had been spreading manure for years— saw council defeat that bylaw.
Council had then passed a motion to direct administration to investigate options for amending the land-use bylaw to allow permitted of manure spreading and permitted grazing of livestock
According to the town’s land use bylaw, prohibited uses of land within Urban Reserve designated land districts — which the amendment would target —include keeping of farm or exotic animals, including cattle feedlots, swine barns, poultry barns, etc.; noxious and hazardous uses; and shipping containers.
The definition of ‘noxious and hazardous uses in the bylaw is, “Those land uses which may be detrimental to public health, safety and welfare or those uses which because of their toxic gases, noxious smells, wastes, noise, dust or smoke emissions may be incompatible with residential or other development”.
Although administration has said that manure spreading is included under noxious and hazardous use, it is not defined as that, and the term ‘manure’ does not appear once in the bylaw as it currently stands.
The bylaw only applies to agricultural manure. Fertilizer such as those brought in garden centers or hardware stores are not affected, and are allowed within town.
Bylaw 868-18 seeks to amend parts of the Urban Reserve land use district the in land use bylaw in the following ways: by adding to its statement of intent that it may be used for agriculture proposes prior to it being developed for urban use, but those are limited to the cultivation of land, crop production and only temporary/seasonal grazing of livestock; adding to the Permitted Use column ‘Temporary pasturing and grazing of livestock’, and ‘manure application’, subject to criteria; and amend and add to Prohibited Uses column to make it more clear the keeping of confined livestock and exotic farm animals, including associated animal shelters, cattle, swine and poultry barns etc., or stockpiling of manure or compost piles, are prohibited”; adding criteria for Extensive Agriculture uses to the district as Section 8, which outline that development permits are not required for extensive agriculture uses or temporary/seasonal grazing of livestock, but they are limited to non-noxious, best practice farming activities related to the cultivation of land, crop production and temporary seasonal livestock grazing, as described in Schedule A; and the addition of definitions for extensive agriculture, livestock, farm and exotic animals.
Coun. Joe Watson raised a question with section 8.4 of the bylaw, which outlines the conditions that pasturing or grazing livestock is permitted on a temporary or seasonal basis, on Urban Reserve land.
One of the conditions stated that “animal confinement buildings or structures such as barns, shelters, pens or corrals are not permitted”, and Watson wondered that if they annexed a property with such a structure on it in the future, they could grandfather the structure in.
Administration confirmed that they could.
Coun. Teresa Feist asked that as that section doesn’t specially say ‘unless it’s grandfathered in’, if they don’t have to put that in.
“When you go through that annexation process, that would be one of the situations,” said Keith Davis, CAO for the town.
“Because right now, on Urban Reserve, we have no structures. We’re not grandfathering in any structures on the Urban Reserve parcels that we currently have.”
Another condition referred specifically to manure spreading; stating that manure spreading could only be done once every four years.
Watson asked if they could change that to once every three years, citing a landowner who needed it done more often as he grew corn, which takes more nitrogen out of the soil.
Coun. Teresa Feist voiced her support of that amendment.
“Depending on the crop or whatever was put in, it might need that extra year,” said Feist.
Another part of that same condition referred to a setback for manure spreading, where the application of manure to land could not occur within 50 feet of the property boundary of an piece of land with a residential dwelling on it.
Watson said that those he visited and talked with about it were “happy with 100 meters” distance boundary, and proposed moving that setback back a little, to 75 meters.
Council passed a motion to perform first reading of the bylaw, in a 4-1 split vote. Mayor Cathy Moore was opposed to the motion.
Council passed a motion to amend section 8.4f(i) in the bylaw to read ‘three years’ instead of ‘four years’, with a 3-2 split vote. Moore and coun. Cynthia Papworth were opposed to the motion.
Council unanimously passed a motion to amend section 8.4f(iv) in the bylaw to read ‘75 meters’ instead of ‘50 meters’.