MPC approves development permit for wallboard manufacturing plant

The Wheatland County Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) approved the development permit application regarding a wallboard manufacturing plant to be located 2.4 kilometres west of Carseland and 0.8 kilometres east of highway 24.

Proposed through the development permit application was a 220,000 square foot facility, including an associated raw product processing mill, and an enclosed storage facility for manufactured wallboard products.

According to the application, the proposed facility will encompass 214 acres of land across two parcels. Administration noted the applicant is in the process of consolidating the parcels through land titles.

Potential concerns which were raised regarding the facility included the repurposing of such a quantity of pristine farmland and marshlands.

Additionally, it was recommended that surrounding associated roads be paved in order to minimize dust emissions.

The application suggested advanced environmental control systems will be incorporated into the facility in order to minimize emissions, and development of a solar array is planned to begin to support the facility in 2025.

Several variances were requested by the applicant, including an address of the stormwater pond positioned in a location straddling a property line, a relaxation of the parking and loading requirements found in Land Use Bylaw Section 7.14, and several variances for the rail spur line.

Operations of the facility are expected 24 hours a day, with employees and facility staff commuting personal vehicles. Truck traffic is expected as materials and product are moved in and out of the facility.

A Traffic Impact Assessment was submitted in support of the application, which evaluated the anticipated impact of traffic generated by development of the local transportation network. This included Highway 24 with Township Road 222, Range Road 262 with Township Road 222, and site access from Township Road 222.

Extensive tree planting and berming is noted in a landscaping plan for the site and was indicated to be in compliance with county landscaping and screening guidelines. This will be to aid in minimizing visual and noise disruption from the facility.

Administration had recommended the MPC approve the development permit application, subject to several conditions outlined in the public meeting agenda, accessible through the Wheatland County website.

These conditions largely include compliance with local municipal bylaws, a commitment to the sole development of facilities indicated in the approved plan, and the maintenance of associated sites during the construction period.

No specific date was indicated during the MPC meeting as to when development may officially begin for the wallboard manufacturing facility.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times