Council eyes ban on bare parcels
Plans are in motion to place a moratorium on bare first parcel subdivisions in Red Deer County.
In a 5-2 vote during its regular meeting May 8, council approved first reading of a bylaw which, if given second and third reading next month, will ban applications for bare first parcel subdivisions until the current review process of the Municipal Development Plan is complete and a new MDP is adopted.
The moratorium would include fragmented bare parcels except those created by new highway alignments, existing highways or railways.
“I suggested a moratorium until we make a long-term decision on how to see subdivisions in Red Deer County,” explained Div. 4 Coun. David Hoar during a break. Hoar spearhead the request, having asked administration to draft the bylaw during council reports at the April 28 council meeting.
Hoar said the county hadn’t supported the removal of bare parcels for a number of years but during the MDP review a couple of years ago it was changed to allow bare parcels of three to four acres to be removed from quarter sections.
“Since then we’ve been seeing a significant number of bare parcels out requests.”
He said the original goal was the preservation of farmland but the number of residential subdivisions has become expensive to service.
“Residential property in distant portions of the county is difficult to service,” he said, citing grading and snow removal as examples. “We pay more than we get back in taxes.”
He said from a landowner perspective, he sees why people want the subdivision; while sometimes the reasons are family related, they are always financial.
Hoar hopes the amendment will prompt public reaction and input during the public hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on June 5.
While Hoar garnered support from the majority of council, Mayor Jim Wood and Div. 3 Coun. Penny Archibald had their reservations, saying the MDP review is already allowing the public to voice their concerns.
“I’ve been to some open houses on the MDP and feel both sides,” said Archibald. “Young people who want to continue as is are saying, ‘We can afford a small portion of Dad’s farm and down the road we can buy it all. We need a little bit of help to get going.’ The public is telling us what they want.”
Wood echoed Archibald’s sentiments, saying the public hearing is just duplicating the process they’re already offering with the MDP review.
“I believe we are currently in the process of public hearings and have comments coming in from residents and we are in the process now of gathering information,” Wood said. “Is there a reason to stop the process for a portion of the time? We would only be doing a duplication of the process we already started. I would like to continue with the process we have and not tie our hands.”
Div. 6 Coun. George Gehrke pointed out that only .05 per cent of the population has turned out to open houses to discuss the MDP.
“Maybe this will spark more conversation.”
He said from what he’s heard, “people don’t want blatant first parcels out. They want to bring their family home.”