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Granum-area land owners opposed to Willow Creek landfill zoning change

Land owners next to the Willow Creek landfill north of Granum do not want to see any expansion of the landfill.
That was the message delivered Nov. 12 at an MD of Willow Creek public hearing 12 regarding a proposed re-zoning of the landfill’s lands from rural general to rural industrial.
MD of Willow Creek manager of planning and development Gail Gibeau said after changes to the land use by-law the landfill is considered legal, non-conforming, meaning it was grandfathered.
It also means there can be no changes to the facility unless it is re-zoned to align it with the land use by-law, which means going from rural general to rural industrial.
MD of Willow Creek planner Mike Burla said there was an issue because advertising stated the re-zoning would be to rural commercial not rural industrial.
Burla suggested council could accept an amendment to rural industrial, or direct administration to re-draft the by-law.
At that point the public hearing was opened.
Cecilie Fleming, an adjacent land owner, said her family is opposed to the re-designation without further consultation or disclosure.
“We really don’t know what this is about,” Fleming said, suggesting the re-zoning should be re-advertised because it does not fit under rural commercial.
Fleming is opposed to the full 160 acres being re-zoned.
“That puts us fence line to fence line,” Fleming said.
Fleming was also concerned about the re-zoning being in-perpetuity and wondered whether the landfill commission would own the landfill forever.
“We want to protect ourselves as land owners because it is a noxious industry,” Fleming said.
“We, there as land owners, were first.”
Fleming explained they had minimum distance setbacks imposed on them the day the landfill was approved.
“It changes our plans forever,” Fleming said.
Fleming pointed out the fact the landfill could add to their buildings while the Flemings could not because of these setbacks.
There are also concerns about extra traffic, as well as garbage and nails on the road from disrespectful landfill users.
“The landfill shouldn’t infringe on our development,” Fleming said, adding there operation is multi-generational and will be handed down to the next generation.
“We were there first, and we want to be protected,” Fleming said.
It was asked if rural industrial gives more latitude in development.
Coun. Glen Alm said rural industrial gives less latitude than rural general.
Gibeau added rural industrial ensures all uses are discretionary, meaning they go through the municipal planning commission where adjacent land owners have an opportunity for comment.
Burla said rural industrial elevates the litmus test for uses higher than rural general did.
Alm added the intent is to trigger a public hearing for which everyone is notified by notice in the paper. With rural general only a development permit is required, and only adjacent land owners are notified.
Burla also pointed out the setbacks from the landfill only apply to human habitation and uses, not barns.
There is also an application available from Alberta Environment to waive the minimum setback distance.
Later, Burla added a buffer could be created if the landfill site is subdivided out zoned rural industrial, and the remaining lands to the north are left rural general.
Gibeau suggested the landfill commission should be approached to discuss the way forward.
Burla said the easiest approach is for the landfill commission to withdraw their application, be presented all the options including the buffer zone, and re-apply.
That way it can be properly advertised as well.
Administration indicated they could talk to the landfill commission to present all options.
The public hearing was then closed.

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