Stettler County denies request to refund security deposit

·4 min read

Stettler county council denied a request from a ratepayer to refund a security deposit held against the building of an approach.

The decision was made at the Jan. 13 regular meeting of council, held via YouTube to meet pandemic rules.

Councillors read a report filed by Rich Fitzgerald, the county’s geographic information system (GIS) coordinator, stating a ratepayer was requesting a $2,000 security deposit dating back almost 10 years be refunded to him.

“A subdivision application to create an approximate 4-acre panhandle configured bare parcel on the SW 19-34-20-W4M was approved by the Municipal Planning Commission on March 13, 2012,” stated Fitzgerald in his report.

“A condition of subdivision approval required ‘satisfactory arrangements must be made with the County of Stettler for access to the proposed parcel and the remainder of the quarter-section, including installation of an approach as necessary to comply with the requirements of Policy 5.9 – Road Specifications, with provisions pursuant to Section 655 of the Municipal Government Act.’

“In order to proceed with the registration of the subdivided parcel, the County required the landowner to provide a $2,000 security deposit to ensure the approach was constructed off Scollard Road in compliance with the County’s approach specifications at a later date.

“Since the registration of the parcel, no approach has been constructed, nor has a rural address been assigned/requested for the residence.

“The applicant is currently using an undeveloped road allowance for access to his residence, and has indicated he does not intend to construct an approach for access to his property from Scollard Road.

“This poses several issues.

“A rural address cannot be assigned from an undeveloped road allowance, and the road is not built to county standard, nor is it maintained by the county.

“Because of these issues, the condition of building the approach was added to the original subdivision approval in 2012.

“Due to the subdivision being endorsed prior to the approach being constructed, the county took the security deposit to ensure the county would have the funds available to construct the approach should the landowner fail to do so.”

Coun. James Nibourg stated it appears there’s a fence running through the middle of the approach and wondered how public works was going to handle this.

“I don’t want to put staff in that position if we don’t have to,” said Nibourg.

Fitzgerald answered the fence is on private property and should be far enough back that it shouldn’t cause a problem.

Director of Operations Rick Green agreed the fence shouldn’t be a problem if the county has to build the approach, and further noted he ensures county staff take many photos of the site in question before work begins so there’s no question later about what was done.

Coun. Les Stulberg asked if $2,000 was going to be enough money to cover construction of the approach.

Green stated yes, based on the estimate.

Fitzgerald also noted in his report if the approach costs less than $2,000 to build, the surplus funds will be returned to the ratepayer.

Coun. Ernie Gendre asked if a 911 call comes in from that property and an ambulance gets stuck in that approach, who is liable?

Green answered that building the proper approach will get rid of liability.

Gendre asked if that property was sold and the new owners had school-aged children, would the school bus use that access?

Green answered if the driveway isn’t in proper condition, children may have to walk to the main road to get on the bus.

Gendre asked how the county would handle a snowplow request for that access.

Green responded it would be denied because there’s nothing there to plow.

Coun. Dave Grover stated that it’s not unusual to see approaches in Stettler County like the one they were discussing.

Councillors unanimously approved a motion for staff to inform the landowner of Lot 1, Block 1, Plan 1212174 that they must construct their approach per the conditions of the subdivision approval by April 30, 2021, failing which the county will undertake the work at the landowner’s expense.

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