Rezoning becomes hot topic at council

  • Dec. 21, 2009 8:00 p.m.

By Jasmine Franklin

A rezoning application brought much controversy Dec. 8 after a family requested Ponoka County rezone their land from an agricultural district to a country residential hobby farm.

The 34.6-acre parcel located at Range Road 264 and Township Road 420 (Secondary Highway 604), would be split into three, 10-acre lots. Two families currently own the land and now wish to rezone for financial reasons.

Neighbours protested at the county council meeting, claiming the rezoning request could lead to subdivisions that have the potential to destroy wildlife habitat and vegetation and ruin the atmosphere of the rural properties.

“We are not trying to put in a subdivision,” explained John Ubel, one landowner.

Sister-in-law Lisa Ubel tried to explain in a different context.

“The intention is not to put in 10 houses on a lot,” she said. “It’s financial — (in addition), John wants to build a bigger house for his family.”

The property includes a dog kennel that would take up one of the three sections. The other two would be left for each family.

Before subdividing bylaws can be passed there has to be an application for rezoning. There is then a public hearing, and the council will decide. The first and second readings have been approved by council in a split decision and the third reading will be heard on Jan. 5.

Precedent was the main concern for adjacent farmers; they are worried that this may pave the way for more subdivisions that could ruin good agricultural land. Charlie Cutforth, chief administrative officer, said although that is a concern, this particular land in question is not a significant source of “good” agricultural land.

“These decisions are always hard,” Cutforth said. “One way or another, someone won’t be happy.”

Cutforth reinforced the point that anyone who wishes to subdivide must apply to council first and that there are no guarantees anything will pass.