Concerns linger over RV resort plan
Turner Valley: Council to decide on land designation this month
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 08:28 am
Neighbours in a foothills community are making one last effort to convince their council to not allow the proposed development of a recreational resort in their town.
Approximately 30 Turner Valley residents addressed town council at its public meeting March 24 with a 170 signature-letter opposing the construction of a 250-lot purchase-only recreational vehicle resort north of the Bailey Ridge subdivision and west of Decalta Road along the Sheep River.
Bailey Ridge Place resident Garry Pollock said he and his neighbours don’t want council to rezone the proposed 50 acres from residential to recreational, which will allow Millarville company Strong Way to purchase the lot and apply to the Town to develop an RV vehicle resort. Council already passed two of three readings required to approve rezoning.
Concerns stated in the letter include residents’ inability to find information about the company online to learn about past developments and a lack of faith that Strong Way has the financial capacity to complete the project.
“We witnessed here in Turner Valley many instances of development that have not been successful,” Pollock said in an interview. “The taxpayer foots the bill.”
Strong Way director Keith Schneider said if the town is concerned about his company’s ability to execute and develop the project, it doesn’t have to sign a development agreement. He added council’s decision ultimately isn’t about the development, but the appropriateness of the development in relation to land use.
“There is a lot of process ahead between administration and the developer to meet all the requirements and expectations and those aren’t necessarily viewed in public,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that they are being done behind closed doors. That’s just the process between people responsible for development.”
The letter also expressed concern over the property containing toxins that could expose the town and taxpayers to protracted legal exposure.
Pollock said during his time on council and as recently as last year’s flood, the Town performed numerous air quality checks in that area due to the release of sour gas. He is also concerned about abandoned lines on the property he says have not been capped properly or were exposed during the 2013 flood.
“There are so many unmapped lines within the whole community, not only on that piece of land,” he said. “That was one of the more productive sites for oil rigs during the ’30s and ’40s. There are pictures in museums and the community that depict that.”
The letter also states the development conflicts with town bylaws, directing council to a letter written by resident Sandra Codd that states an RV resort would violate the noise bylaw and that there is no bylaw in existence for such a development. The final point made was the development would marginally contribute to businesses in the community.
Although not addressed in the letter, those at the meeting expressed disappointed over the format of the March open house and requested council organize a public forum requiring a presentation from Strong Way and an opportunity for residents to ask questions in a formal setting.
“With better leadership and guidelines there could have been some form of structure identified by the administration within Turner Valley to have a more professional type of open house,” Pollock said.
Strong Way held two open houses in Turner Valley, and Schneider said he doesn’t see the need for a third.
“I don’t know that that’s necessarily prudent,” he said. “I don’t know at this stage what additional information would be beneficial in this format.”
As for the opposition to Strong Way’s proposed development, Schneider said he didn’t expect it to be at this level and hopes residents have a clear understanding of his proposal.
Coun. Barry Williamson said council will discuss the public’s concerns at its committee of the whole meeting on April 7. He expects a decision for third reading will be on the agenda for council’s regular meeting in April.
“If that third reading is passed we are merely approving the redesignation for the zoning for that property,” he said. “We would have to go through another process of this development. We may not get to the point of a third reading.”