By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County council has approved a rezoning bylaw for a business expansion north of Monarch.
County council held a public hearing for Bylaw 20-010 during their regular June 18 meeting.
The bylaw would amend the county’s Land Use Bylaw to change a portion of Plan 0214060 Block 1 Lot 1 in a portion of 7-10-23-W4 from Rural Urban Fringe to Rural General Industrial to allow for the expansion of an existing industrial use of a feed mill/grain terminal on that site.
The parcel is located north of the hamlet of Monarch along the north side of the CP rail line. The feed mill/grain terminal has been on and operated on the property for quite some time and has been run by a number a businesses in that time span, as the current use has been grandfathered in.
The applicant is submitting the application for the LUB amendment so they can expand the existing operation and potentially add some other industrial uses to the parcel, which would be prohibited under the RUF district.
The bylaw had previously received first reading during council’s regular May 7 meeting.
During the public hearing, Hilary Janzen, senior planner for the county, noted the county’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) includes items that council needs to consider when reviewing a bylaw amendment application for an industrial or commercial use, such as impact on adjacent uses, access to an established transportation network, suitable storm drainage, provision of services, agriculturally related use of land and whether it is an efficient use of the land.
While the proposed re-designation meets some of these criteria, it does not meet the MDP’s criteria in regards to what potential negatively impacts additional industrial development may have on the residents of Monarch, and in the past residents in Monarch have had concerns with the noise produced at this site.
Several residents had also submitted correspondence for the public hearing, stating concerns over an increase in traffic, dust, noise and odours; the addition of more industrial business on the property; and the state of Township Road 101A/Railway Avenue leading into Monarch, as it is a gravel road, if the bylaw passes and the rezoning should happen. A petition had also been submitted stating Monarch residents’ opposition to the rezoning.
There were also concerns the public could not attend the meeting as some people do not have the means to watch the public hearing online. County council meetings have been closed to the public for the last few months due to the pandemic, although they are live-streamed.
While some of the concerns could be addressed by the applicant through future development permits, the nature of the business could lead to increased off-site nuisances such as noise, odours, and traffic.
“Some of the concerns regarding the proposed re-designation could be addresses by the applicant through future development permit applications — mitigating dust, using dust control on both the roads and the site, and the applicant would probably be able to elaborate on that some more,” said Janzen. “The nature of the business, as I see it, could lead to increased off-site nuisances such as the noise, odours and traffic. It’s just industrial businesses have the potential to have those types of impacts to landowners.”
Janzen also stressed that the proposed rezoning was just for the parcel north of the rail line, noting that there had been concern that the development proposal was south of the rail line.
“I understand from a number of the residents that in the past, there were trees planted in the southern part here (south the rail line) and that the residents of Monarch are maintaining those trees so that they will grow,” said Janzen, adding the trees there were doing quite well.
Janzen also noted the ability for future development the parcel was limited, as it was quite narrow.
After a recess for the public hearing— which was to allow for people to call in and to voice their views on the bylaw to keep with social distancing measures — Janzen said they had received an additional email voicing noise concerns and potential impact on property values. Coun. Morris Zeinstra asked when the business is operational, which Janzen confirmed was 8 a.m.-5 p.m. during weekdays, although Reeve Lorne Hickey noted there may be some exceptions depending on when they receive stuff by rail.
Coun. Klass Vander Veen said they needed to make it clear to the applicants that the noise issues in the past is still in people’s minds. However, there has been recent improvements, such as the transition to electric, and “the county has to be open for business”.
“I think one of the biggest challenges we face as councillors is with every decision it’s a balancing act. In this case, you know, obviously, there’s a group of residents in the hamlet that are very concerned, and they made some very pointed comments, and I think it’s for us to take those comments and weigh that against what is before us,” said Tory Campbell, Lethbridge County councillor. “We have to balance the economic welfare of the county, and try to strike a balance with what our residents would like to see happen in their community.”
“Some of the comments that were made regarding profit and other locations and I think that’s maybe an over-simplistic way to look at it. It’s not profit; we need business in our county, we need to support business in our county. We are an agricultural county, and we need to support those agricultural producers, and this is a business that does that. If it weren’t from the taxes generated by businesses like this, we would not be able to supply the roads, infrastructure, emergency services, recreational opportunities, community gathering places. This is not profit; this is a source of revenue so our county can grow and be sustainable.”
Council approved second and third readings of the bylaw.