By Marianne Cole
Element GP Inc., the Calgary based company proposing to develop a large cannabis production facility along Hwy. 22 south of Caroline, submitted a Development Permit Application to Clearwater County on August 17, 2018. This application will now be reviewed by our Municipal Planning Commission (MPC). They have 40 days from the date of submission to do that, meaning that the review must be done prior to September 26, 2018.
There have been significant concerns raised by neighbors with regards to this development proposal. They are particularly concerned about reduced land values as well as water issues, impact on wildlife which they enjoy on their land, and then all the effects of the facility--- lights, smell, noise, and traffic. Element has indicated that they will mitigate those last concerns but in speaking with a neighbor of the facility at Cremona, they are very real issues.
Perhaps of greatest significance is the fact that this facility, in this location, DOES NOT COMPLY with the Land Use Bylaw passed UNANIMOUSLY by this Council in March of this year. That bylaw stipulates a 300m setback restriction from a property boundary with a residence. In Element’s application there is a very clear diagram that shows setbacks from neighboring property boundaries of 87m. to 235 m.. Aside from clearly indicating non-compliance, the diagram is also lacking in information as no measurement is shown for a property, with a residence, lying across Hwy 22 to the east.
What is particularly disturbing is that the process is now in the hands of a MINORITY OF COUNCIL. There are only 3 councillors (out of 7) and 2 members at large on the MPC. They will review the application and will make a decision to either accept it, accept it with conditions, or refuse it. There will be no public hearing and the other councillors have no say (although we do not know what communication may or may not be taking place in the background).
WHAT CAN BE DONE?????
Any resident of Clearwater County can submit a Letter of Concern regarding this development BY FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2018. They can be hand delivered, sent by e-mail to email@example.com or mailed to Administration, Clearwater County, Box 550, Rocky Mtn. House, AB T4T 1A4.
CONCERNS MAY BE:
* Non-compliance with the Land Use Bylaw. If we allow this to go forward even though it does not follow the rules, we are opening the door to numerous other applications for any type of development anywhere in the county. According to the Land Use Bylaw the guidelines in it are established to promote “orderly development” within the county. This would open the door to chaos.
* Unanimous opposition to the development presented by neighbors at the Public Hearing in July. Their concerns went completely unheeded as council passed the land re-designation.
* Concerns with Element’s integrity. Their own published information states that they are “Coming Soon” and “will be built in Clearwater County”. This can be found in information on their own website that was set up long before the development permit application even went in.
* This leads one to question the validity of other statements they make with regards to water usage and community outreach.
* There certainly may be other concerns individuals have and I encourage you to contact people in the Cremona area who have first-hand experience with a similar facility.
ABOVE ALL, MAKE YOUR CONCERNS KNOWN BY SEPTEMBER 7, 2018. A FEW MINUTES NOW MAY PROVE VALUABLE FOR HOURS, MONTHS, OR YEARS TO COME.