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MD delays decision on gravel pit expansion north of Fort Macleod

MD of Willow Creek Municipal Planning Commission recessed its meeting Aug. 15 to review all the information it has received before approving an application to expand a gravel pit north of Fort Macleod.
McNab and Co. applied for a Class 1 gravel pit at the south half of 24-9-26-4.
Before any discussion began on the application, Reeve Henry Van Hierden and Coun. Ian Sundquist declared conflicts of interest and left the meeting. They were also not present when the final decision was made.
Since Sundquist chairs the commission, deputy chairman Glen Alm assumed the chair for the duration of the discussion.
MD of Willow Creek chief administrative officer acting development officer Cynthia Vizzutti explained a Class 2 gravel pit had been operating there, which allows less than 12 acres.
The operation had grown, without the benefit of a new permit, so the MD of Willow Creek issued a stop order and requested a permit for a Class 1 facility be secured by the developers.
The expanded operation is in the flood damage reduction zone and crosses the MD of Willow Creek boundary into the Town of Fort Macleod.
The total operation would be 40.8 acres including 23 acres in use now.
Hours of operation would be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Crushing has stopped on site but, in order to reclaim the site, stockpiled gravel has to be trucked out, so hauling has continued.
Land owners within a two-mile radius as well as affected parties such as provincial government departments and utilities companies were also notified for comment.
Several adjacent land owners and referral agencies did supply comments.
Vizzutti read off who had provided comment and summarized briefly for those in attendance what the concerns were.
Concerns include increased traffic, noise, and dust, as well as wear and tear on a bridge being used on the haul route.
Town of Fort Macleod municipal manager David Connauton was present and explained his council gave first reading to rezone land for the gravel pit to a direct control district.
However, town council wants to hold a public hearing, so Connauton requested the MPC hold off making a decision until that public hearing is held Monday, Sept. 10.
MD of Willow Creek planner Mike Burla suggested the MPC needs time to take in all the information and review it.
Wendy McKinnon and Kelley Murphy, two adjacent land owners, were present as well and expressed their concerns about the gravel pit expansion.
McKinnon said there may be no mining going on now, but at least 100 trucks per day are going by.
“It just stands to reason it’ll be steady traffic,” McKinnon said, adding the noise is a problem with trucks shifting gears and braking. “It’s got to the point we really can’t sit outside.”
Murphy feared the bridge cannot handle three trucks on it at a time, and would like to see it made for local traffic only.
The Oldman River is a historical focal point in the community for people, and Murphy emphasized the river should be kept nice for everyone.
The MPC deferred making an application to the end of its meeting.
When the time came, the MPC went into closed session to discuss the application.
When the MPC reverted to open session, members agreed to recess the commission to on or before Wednesday, Sept. 12.

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