Precision Precast Ltd., a state of the art precast concrete plant in Lacombe,has been denied a second rezoning request by Ponoka County councillors.
On Nov. 6 Tom Kentz and Harold Jahn hoped to have 52 acres of land north of the Wolf Creek Golf Resort and along Highway 2, rezoned from agricultural to rural industrial.
However the rezoning bylaw was denied a third reading at the Nov. 27 meeting.
Councillors George Verheire, Gawney Hinkley and Keith Beebe were opposed, while Reeve Gordon Svenningsen voted in favour of the project and its location. Coun. Paul McLauchlin was not present at the meeting.
At the Jan. 8 council meeting Kentz and Jahn returned with a new rezoning application for the same location. Instead of rural industrial they wanted the land use bylaw amended to rezone to the land in a direct control district.
County CAO Charlie Cutforth says this is the first direct control application that’s been brought before council. A direct control designation would mean any use of land and building decisions within the district could be approved by the council. The new application was presented for first reading. Coun. Gawney Hinkley and Reeve Svenningsen opposed the bylaw while councillors Paul McLauchlin and George Verheire voted in favour. Coun. Keith Beebe was not present and because of the tie vote the motion was automatically defeated.
Verheire changed his vote from the first hearing because he liked the idea of the direct control district.
“This being in my division down there, I’m still going to speak against it and I’m still going to vote against it,” explained Hinkley. “There’s good support in that area and the people don’t want it,” said Hinkley, at the previous public hearing.
The hearing was attended by several nearby landowners, who also attended the first hearing. Their feelings regarding the plant hadn’t changed.
“It’s inappropriate for the area,” said Jason Reid. Another landowner, Don Snyder, was concerned about what would happen to the land if the property were rezoned and, for some reason, the plant wasn’t built.
“The whole neighborhood is dead against this. Now why would you even consider it?” Ed Walters asked council.
“We’re country people we live in the country for a reason.”
As he stated before, Svenningsen said the plant would be an asset to the county but at the previous hearing he was concerned about the location. “With all this negativity in the community I’ve got a bad feeling this is the wrong place.” It was the public’s reaction that changed his vote from the previous hearing.
In response to the landowners’ objections, Jahn attempted to again explain why he believes the plant wouldn’t interfere with the land owners’ enjoyment of their property.
“There are no residential communities in our opinion directly around this property,” said Jahn. On the east side of the property is Highway 2A, to the north is a pipe yard, to the east a dairy farm and on the west side there is a farm operation, behind the sand hill.
Jahn said if the 52 acres was better farmland Precision Precast would consider looking elsewhere, as they’ve done on other occasions. However, he feels the farmland is marginal and rezoning won’t negatively impact the county.
However, Ponoka County CAO Charlie Cutforth believed the citizens felt they are being adversely affected, and their concerns need to be considered in council’s decision.