“They don’t care. They want us out and that’s the bottom line. We don’t fit what they want their downtown to look like.”
This is what Blackfalds business owner of Granden Auto Alvin Melton believes regarding an ongoing development permit issue with the Town of Blackfalds.
The issue began in 2018 when the town, according to CAO Myron Thompson, received a complaint regarding an RV in Granden Auto’s storage yard. Melton disputes their was a complaint made.
“We were fixing an RV and the Town said we couldn’t do that because it wasn’t within our development permit,” Melton said. “I got a new development permit and they put so many stipulations on it that they are running us out of business. We now can’t have anything in our storage yard except cars and trucks.”
Town CAO Myron Thompson said the Town of Blackfalds issued a new two-year development permit in July 2019 to allow for RV repair at Granden Auto.
“We provided a changed-use development permit for him to allow him as a business owner more flexibility to repair recreation vehicles,” Thompson said. “Through the review process, there was concern on some of the things stored on the site including parts and portions of vehicle.
“That went to MPC and SAB, which came up with the decision to have those things removed.”
The RV has been moved, but parts of a ‘68 Chevy, which Melton said they are restoring remains on the property.
“The very first word on the development permit is restoration. They (Town of Blackfalds administration) said that’s not what we mean by restoration. We don’t know what they mean by restoration but obviously it is not restoring a vehicle,” Melton said.
Thompson said the Town isn’t sure what is happening with the vehicle.
“He said he is restoring it, but the truck is in pieces. Really all we are looking for is that material to be taken away. If he wants to store it behind the building where it is out of sight to improve the overall aesthetics of the area, we would be happy with that,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the Town is working with Melton and thanked him for moving the RV.
“The RV has been moved, but the other matters still exist. We have issued some warning letters and the last warning issue ended Jan. 31. The position we are in now is to issue a stop order. Through that stop order, he has the right to appeal,” Thompson said.
Melton believes the Town doesn’t want his shop to be part Blackfalds downtown redevelopment plan and are pressuring him to move.
“The Town keeps threatening and they are now threatening the landowner,” Melton said.
Thompson said this is not the case and that the Town uses his repair shop for their own purposes.
“That is not a reason at all. We have heard all sorts of things that we want him out so a strip mall can go in there. No, we definitely need a vehicle repair shop and think he has a good business. We utilize his services for all of our equipment and that is the furthest thing from being factual,” Thompson said.
Melton said he thinks this issue will continue.
“The worst thing that would happen to me is that I will apply for another development permit and take it straight to court. The first process is the municipal planning commission and then the subdivision appeal board and then you can take it to court. I didn’t do that last time but I should have,” he said.
Thompson said it is a difficult situation. for the Town and the business owner.
“It is a difficult situation. We are not treating him unjustly. It is in our downtown core and it is part of downtown revitalization area. It was MPC’s decision to have the site cleaned up. There has been inroads with that and we greatly appreciate that. We hope that he will complete that and we can move on,” Thompson said.
Melton said he wants the Town to continue to let him run his business.
“If they would back off, stop threatening me and let me run my business, it would be fine. They continue to harass us,” he said.
He added he believes administration doesn’t like Granden Auto. Thompson said their dealings with the business have been amiable.
“We have land use bylaws for a reason. Do you enforce those or do you turn a blind eye? That is the situation we are in,” Thompson said.
The main issue Melton hopes changes is the short-term two-year development permit issued for Granden auto, which he believes was a way to pressure the business.
“No banks will lend me any money and no one will want to help because we only have a two-year development permit. What will happen in two years?,” he asked.
Thompson said the two-year development permit has to do with the Town changing their land use bylaws.
“The development permit was issued for that timeline because we needed that time to update the land use bylaw we are working on right now. That is the only reason for that. I know he thinks there is some reason for this timeline, but that is not the case,” Thompson said.
Melton said he wants to continue operating his business in Blackfalds.
“If they want us out, they can pay for it,” Melton said.
Thompson said he hopes the material will be removed form the yard.
“We hope we get compliance and we have been working with the business owner and want him to have all the success he deserves,” Thompson said.