Proposed change would eliminate requirement for home business permits

Farm families operating minor home businesses won’t have to apply for development permits under changes being proposed to Lacombe County's

Farm families operating minor home businesses won’t have to apply for development permits under changes being proposed to Lacombe County’s Land Use Bylaw.

Councillors, last Thursday, accepted for information a draft of changes proposed by staff based on a committee of the whole meeting June 20. The next step is to introduce a bylaw to incorporate the changes to the Land Use Bylaw. That will be presented for first reading at the next council meeting, said planner Anita O’Driscoll.

The definition of a home business, minor will also be changed to allow for outside storage of farm equipment used in a farming operation.

A home business, minor, is described as a secondary use of a principal dwelling, its accessory buildings, or combination thereof, by at least one resident of the dwelling to conduct a business or activity or occupation. It does not include any non-resident onsite employees, or clients visiting the site.

While operators of these types of businesses won’t have to obtain a development permit, they will be “encouraged to complete” an information form “to ensure that the business meets the criteria for a minor home based business and so the county has a record of the business as a deemed approval”.

A second change to the Land Use Bylaw would increase the size of ancillary buildings that can be approved by county staff in country residential subdivisions.

Currently any accessory building over 1,500 square feet has to be approved by the county’s Municipal Planning Commission. A change is planned to increase that so the development officer may approve accessory buildings where the total building area is 232.25 square metres (2,500 square feet) or less.

The final change proposed is to significantly increase the type of businesses permitted in the general commercial, highway commercial and commercial (Hamlet of Mirror) districts.

O’Driscoll said land in the commercial districts is not as in demand as industrial land in the county. One reason is that commercial businesses like to have municipal water and sewer services. Another is the scope of uses permitted, particularly in the highway commercial areas.

Added to the permitted uses in general commercial districts would be animal grooming facility, commercial school, custom manufacturing, government service, landscaping sales and service and veterinary clinic. Added to discretionary uses would be care centre and repair services.

Besides the above, financial service, health service, office and personal service establishment would be added to permitted uses in highway commercial districts. Veterinary hospital would be added under discretionary uses in this district.

Possible uses in the Mirror district would expand with addition of animal grooming facility, commercial school, custom manufacturing, financial service, government service, health service and landscaping sales and service as permitted uses and care centre and educational service added as discretionary uses. Daycare facility would be removed from discretionary uses since the definition of care centre would include this use.

A series of definitions for the different uses was included in the proposal.

Once councillors have given first reading to a bylaw making these changes a public hearing is required to hear from ratepayers before second and third reading may be given.