Bashaw town council approved a development permit for a non-conforming shed that the owner stated will be used as a guest house or bunkhouse. The decision was made at the May 30 regular meeting of council.
At a previous meeting councillors heard the application for a development permit from Connie Nand who wanted to add a pre-built 18 foot by 30 foot outbuilding shed and three existing accessory buildings to her property located at 5007 54 Ave.
The property in question is located in the direct control (DC) zone, which means town council has final say over the development permit.
At the previous meeting Nand told councillors the 18’ by 30’ shed would be used as extra sleeping space for guests or family.
Councillors at that meeting asked for more feedback about safety codes, and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller reported back she was told to ensure there are smoke and CO2 detectors in the shed, “...and egress installed in the 18 by 30 foot accessory building.”
Fuller told councillors she did not have a recommendation for them on this application, but they had three options: approve the development permit as it was presented at the meeting; deny the application as the shed is a non-compliant secondary suite with the absence of running water or kitchen facilities; or allow the applicant to fully upgrade the shed to be a compliant secondary suite as part of a revised application.
Councillors began their discussion with both Coun. Jackie Northey and Bryan Gust noting they didn’t oppose the application. Gust then made a motion to approve the first option.
Coun. Kyle McIntosh stated he was concerned the shed was being used as a guest house and did some research to define what a guest house is or should be.
He noted some, but not all, other municipalities define a guest house as having running water, a kitchen and sanitary facilities and sometimes refer to these as “self contained units.”
McIntosh stated the application before them didn’t seem to be a self-contained unit.
He went on to say he was concerned people would be inhabiting this shed that was about 125 feet away from the nearest washroom and was also worried about future uses if the permit was approved.
McIntosh continued that he was also concerned about ventilation, access and was not comfortable with the application because it will clearly be used as a secondary suite but it doesn’t have sanitary facilities as many such suites do.
Fuller pointed out other municipality’s land use bylaws vary greatly depending on location and in this case the parcel in question has very few subdivision options.
The CAO noted the property owners are willing to invest in what appears to be a good quality structure that seems to be well maintained and is only for their personal use.
“We’re looking at a wood version of a tent, in some ways,” said Fuller.
Mayor Rob McDonald stated the shed is an attractive building and is superior to something like an old camper parked there.
McIntosh asked the mayor if he felt the shed blended with the neighbourhood and the mayor answered he felt it does. The mayor also pointed out the parcel in question is larger in size and is also located on the edge of town.
During discussion the subject of ‘precedent setting’ came up more than once. Councillors wondered how this permit, if approved, would affect other development permit applications.
It was noted that council development decisions on DC zones can’t be appealed.
McIntosh asked if the public or neighbours should be given some way of submitting feedback on this application.
The CAO’s memo stated she didn’t feel public input was necessary for this application. Gust also stated he didn’t feel input from neighbours was necessary in this case.
Councillors eventually passed a resolution approving option #1.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review