The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) has approved a three year development permit for a gravel pit that’s currently under a stop work order. The decision was made by a unanimous vote at the April 27 regular committee meeting. ECA Review/ScreenshotStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published 09:00 May 05, 2022

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) has approved a three year development permit for a gravel pit that’s currently under a stop work order. 

The decision was made by a unanimous vote at the April 27 regular committee meeting.

Stettler County’s MPC is comprised of county council and chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.

The development permit application for an aggregate (gravel) operation came from Earl Marshall Trucking Ltd. for a 160 parcel of land located at SW 33-36-20 W4M owned by Crawford Gravel and Rock Ltd. and the application was presented by two representatives of Parkland Community Planning Services, Anika Drost and Craig Teal.

Drost told board members the pit in question is commonly known as the Crawford Pit and has been in use for gravel, sand and other aggregate since the 1950’s.

“Uses within proximity of the development area include residences on the adjacent properties immediately to the west, the northwest, and the northeast of the subject quarter section,” stated Drost’s memo. 

“The quarter section to the west that contains the closest residence, also contains a gravel pit within its northwest portion. Another gravel pit is located to the east and a third gravel pit to the southeast of the subject quarter section. 

The remaining lands surrounding the quarter section are used for agricultural purposes. The portion of the quarter section to the north of the development area is used for agricultural purposes, including cattle grazing.”

Chair Nibourg asked who the applicant’s agent was and Drost told him the agent was present, James and Crystal Marshall.

Nibourg noted the agents in question recently had a permit approved and asked if they are meeting all requirements. Teal answered that yes, to the best of his knowledge all requirements. from an August 2021 permit approval were being met.

Nibourg asked staff to elaborate, and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy stated cap levy reporting relating to the August 2021 permit was “falling behind” and audit information requested by the county hadn’t been received.

Looking at Earl Marshall Trucking’s application Nibourg stated the Crawford Pit had to be brought into compliance and he didn’t want this pit to be operational until all conditions are met; at the same time Nibourg stated the applicant must have a fair chance to meet conditions. 

Nibourg further went on to say a “stop work” order currently exists on the Crawford Pit.

Teal responded that as soon as the MPC approves a permit, the clock starts ticking on it. Teal then said that the biggest compliance issue with the Crawford Pit is “…no approved development permit,” which was the matter before the board. 

Teal also pointed out sections of the development permit which note certain conditions must be met before work begins and added that the stop work order remains in place until certain conditions are met. 

“So is the pressure on?” asked Teal. “I think the answer is yes.”

Nibourg noted Stettler County has opened other “stop work” sites in the past and ended up with “grief” over the decision.

Drost reviewed the application and noted the recommendation was to approve it for a 10 year period with a list of 27 conditions, all of which were read and included issues like air quality, noise, improvements to a berm on the west side of the property, reclamation and the number of trucks into and out of the site per day, among many others.

During discussion Reeve Larry Clarke mentioned concerns such as vegetation control, and also noted he opposed a 10 year term for the permit, instead preferring three years because of issues the county has had on this site.

Nibourg agreed. “We’ve definitely had issues on this site,” said Nibourg. “It has been a big issue for us.” 

Nibourg polled commission members and they all agreed to support a three year term for the permit and as Coun. Les Stulberg stated, an extension if there were no issues after three years.

James and Crystal Marshall had a chance to speak, and they voiced concerns with some requirements, pointing out that excavation at the pit will not go into the water table at any point, requested clarification on some setbacks, that they’d spoke with a neighbour who said there was no wetland as identified on a map, and that the three year term of the permit would be “pretty tough” on them for a number of reasons, including the more than $30,000 spent on studies.

Board members unanimously approved Earl Marshall Trucking Ltd.’s application for a three year development permit for the Crawford Pit with conditions as amended at the April 27 MPC meeting.

This item reprinted with permission from East Central Alberta Review, Coronation, Alberta