County of Stettler turns down request to allow deck covering
A County of Stettler property owner will have to remove a covering from a recreational vehicle (RV) wooden deck after the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) upheld the rule forbidding the feature.
The decision was made at the Feb. 22 regular MPC board meeting.
The MPC is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun James Nibourg.
Board members read a request from property owners Rory and Candace Reinbold to allow a covered deck for an RV on their lot located in the Rochon Sands Heights subdivision.
County planner Rich Fitzgerald explained the county’s land use bylaw (LUB) doesn’t allow deck coverings as an RV accessory.
“The property is located in the resort residential communally serviced district in the County of Stettler,” stated Fitzgerald’s memo to council.
“The proposed use of an addition of a deck to an RV is a permitted use in this district.
“However, the applicant is proposing to use a covered deck. Section 76.4 (f) of the LUB states that in the Rochon Sands Heights subdivision, an addition to an RV shall be limited to a ground level uncovered deck.
“This covered deck was purchased from an adjacent landowner to the subject property, who had the covered deck attached to their RV prior to the construction of their new house.
The applicant then purchased and placed the covered deck on the subject property without the benefit of a permit.
“Bylaw [officers] noticed the covered deck on the property and sent the landowner a letter, and subsequently the landowner submitted this application.
Rochon Sands Heights currently has four lots where an RV has a covered deck as an attachment without the benefit of a permit allowing for the development.”
Fitzgerald noted county staff recommended granting a permit for only the deck and requiring the covering be removed.
He added that even though the covering isn’t allowed for an RV under the LUB, the MPC can grant a variance essentially allowing it; the variance was technically what the Reinbolds were requesting.
Coun. Justin Stevens, addressing Candace Reinbold who was present at the meeting, stated the County of Stettler has seen situations like this before where a covered deck sits next to an RV, then the RV disappears then, “...we have this variance sitting out in the middle of nowhere.”
Candace responded the Reinbolds intend for the RV to be there long-term and it’s already been there for seven years.
Nibourg asked Candace if removing the covering was a problem for the owners. Candace responded her family purchased the deck from a neighbour who used it for several years so the Reinbolds were under the impression it was permitted. She stated the covering was one of the reasons she bought it and she never realized there was a problem with it.
Fitzgerald stated RV deck coverings have been prohibited since the LUB was written. Nibourg clarified the deck’s seller did not have a permit allowing the covering.
Coun. Dave Grover stated he would not vote for the variance since that went against the LUB rules.
Coun. Les Stulberg explained why the county prohibits covered decks for RVs. Stulberg noted issues have arisen in the past because homeowners complain about the covered decks sitting in the open with no RV nearby.
“They kind of refer to them as cattle shelters,” said Stulberg.
Nibourg asked county planners if an MPC decision allowing this covered deck could be appealed. County Director of Planning & Development Craig Teal said yes, it could be appealed but the decision may stand up.
“It’s not a slam dunk,” said Teal.
Reeve Larry Clarke noted if the MPC approved this covered deck it would be difficult to deny other covered decks, and also referred to previous complaints the County of Stettler received about covered RV decks.
Coun. Ernie Gendre stated it was unfortunate that this unpermitted deck was never caught, adding that not all covered decks look as nice as the Reinbold’s and added that he couldn’t vote in favour of the variance.
Candace said she understood the rules and felt the County of Stettler should be applying them to all property owners.
“So if you’re going to make us do it, then I think it should be straight across the board,” said Candace, adding she knew of at least four other covered decks in the community.
Nibourg said enforcement is sometimes slow but it is coming. “We are aware of some of those [covered decks],” said Nibourg.
Board members unanimously passed the staff recommendation to approve the Reinbold’s deck with the condition the covering is removed.
Fitzgerald added the county will work with the property owners to remove it by a date that works for everyone.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review