After deferring the decision for weeks, Lacombe County council has finally decided to give second reading to a bylaw that would rezone a parcel of land near the shore of Gull Lake from agricultural use to recreational use, allowing for the construction of a 20-site private campground – Eagle’s Nest on Gull Lake.
On June 12th at a regular meeting, council narrowly voted in favour of giving the bylaw second reading by a margin of one vote.
Tim Gibbs, who made the application for the rezoning, said he doesn’t understand why council continues to push the development towards becoming an RVR zoning when he has met all the requirements necessary for a kind of development allowed for by the recreational zoning.
“It shouldn’t be this long a process,” said Gibbs. “We’ve agreed to everything we’ve been asked for all along.”
Gibbs added that he feels that council is simply stalling in hopes that Gibbs and the others involved with the Eagle’s Nest campground will change their minds.
However, Gibbs added he is hopeful and fairly confident the rezoning will still go through as the campground has met all of the County’s demands thus far.
“I’m very positive it will go forward,” said Gibbs. “We have done everything they have asked us to do from day one.”
The process to make that decision began at council’s May 8th meeting with the public hearing regarding the rezoning.
After presentations had been made at the public hearing, council opted to keep the hearing open and reconvene the hearing on May 22nd.
At the May 22nd meeting, the public hearing was closed but council still chose to defer making their decision until the June 12th meeting.
However, the project has been going on for much longer, about three years.
Since the beginning of the process, council has expressed concern that the attempt to rezone the land for recreational use instead of the usual RVR zoning was an attempt to circumvent the requirements of that process.
However, a campground is a permitted use under the recreational zoning.
Because of council’s concern though, Gibbs and administration have worked together to make the development come as close to subdivision and RVR requirements as possible without actually being a subdivision.
Because the development is already so close to meeting the standards of such a subdivision, some councilors stated that they would like to see Eagle’s Nest become one and Councillor Brenda Knight asked why the project was not going through the subdivision process.
Several concerns regarding the quality of the wastewater management system that will be employed by Eagle’s Nest have been raised by council as well.
Gibbs said that the system should not be cause for concern because other systems of the same type, even ones operating near wetlands, already exist in the County and have shown to be effective methods of wastewater treatment.
Councillor Rod McDermand was especially concerned about the standards of the wastewater system and setting a precedent.
He said if council were to go ahead with this project, they would be opening a door to developments to use what he believed was a sub-par water treatment system as well.
Council voted to give second reading to the rezoning in a 4 – 4 vote, with Knight, McDermand and Councillor Barb Shepherd voting against.