County of Stettler approvals ‘guest ranch’ buildings for farm

·3 min read

The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) approved a development permit application looking to add guest ranch cooking facilities to a local farm. The decision was made at the April 26 regular MPC meeting.

The MPC is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.

Board members pondered an application by Marc Jongerden of Jongerden Holdings located at Lot I Blk 1 Plan 142 5191 who was seeking a “discretionary use” type development permit to change the use of several buildings on or soon to be on his farm.

County Planner Rich Fitzgerald presented the application to councillors.

“The subject property is located southeast of Erskine in the County of Stettler and is 5.36 acres in size,” stated his report to council.

“The applicant has operated a general store with an onsite greenhouse, chicken barn and petting zoo since 2022. The general store sells mostly locally made products, and is open year-round. There is also a large garden on the property which provides vegetables for the general store during summer months.

A sea-can converted to living quarters is currently located on the property that the operators are living in.”

During discussion Fitzgerald noted board members may be more familiar with the operation's business name, Ford’s Farmstead, and added that changing the use of several buildings didn't involve bringing in anything new.

“The applicant is proposing to change the use of an existing ancillary building on the property,” stated Fitzgerald’s report. “The current permit allows the ancillary building to be used as storage.

The applicant is proposing to change the use of the building to a kitchen facility to prepare ready made meals and baking to be sold onsite in the rural convenience store. This use falls under the definition of a value-added agricultural industry.

“The applicant is also proposing to convert two 8’x12’ sea-cans to refrigerator units. One sea-can is currently located on the property and is currently being used as storage.

The proposed location of the sea-cans will be behind the proposed kitchen facility, and exceeds the minimum setback requirements of the district.”

Readers should note sea-cans, also called intermodel freight containers, are steel containers originally designed for shipping cargo and commonly converted for storage. Some communities regulate their use as some members of the public have complained that sea-cans are unattractive.

Fitzgerald noted the application meets all of the requirements of the County of Stettler’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) and added that other county departments were consulted on the application and had no objections.

However, the recommendation to approve also contained a number of conditions including the project must follow the site plan submitted by the applicants, setbacks for the buildings must be followed, additional signage must get its own development permit and “The exterior of the sea-cans must be finished in such a way as to match the look of the other buildings located on the property within one year of being placed on the property,” among other conditions.

Ford’s Farmstead representative Sharon Jongerden acknowledged the sea-cans needed some work. “They are pretty ugly,” she said at the meeting, adding the applicants will improve the sea-can’s appearance.

Councillors unanimously approved the development permit application with the list of conditions.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review