DEVELOPING: Stettler County reduces density on controversial Paradise Shores

Number of sites in entire project reduced from 370 to 168

Stettler County’s Subdivision Development Appeal Board (SDAB) reduced the density for Buffalo Lake’s Paradise Shores. The number was slashed from the original approved 370 RV or campground sites to 168 sites. The development was first proposed as a 1,000 RV stall park but was later reduced to 750 stalls.

A merit hearing was held Sept. 18-19 and a hearing was also held Aug. 16 to give opponents of the development one last chance to appeal the development permit application Stettler County approved for Paradise Shores RV in June. Stettler County’s Subdivision Development Appeal Board (SDAB) closed the appeal hearing Oct. 24.

RELATED: Stettler County’s SDAB closes appeal process for controversial development Paradise Shores

Nicole Wright, who lives in Red Deer and whose family has a cabin at White Sands, welcomed the scaled-down development.

“So awesome,” she said through Facebook. “So proud to be a part of a community that stuck together to protect the environment and the people of the community. Thank you and congrats to all of those who helped out and volunteered countless hours.”

Stettler County Reeve Larry Clarke said he trusts the process the SDAB went through to reach their decision.

“We respect and support the ruling.”

Stettler County CAO Yvette Cassidy said the county will work with the SDAB and developer to make sure conditions are met.

RELATED: Paradise Shore’s lawyer granted adjournment of SDAB hearing

The county’s SDAB heard eight appeals that were filed by those opposed to the development.

In a prepared statement, Niki Thorsteinsson, director of communication for the county, said the county plans to have new studies and are requiring the developer to provide an updated traffic impact assessment, geotechnical assessment of slopes, landscaping plan and site plans.

In addition, the county stipulates that the amenities and the outdoor recreational facilities have to be finished one year from the date of the approved site plan.

The developer will also have to pay for construction of a 38 stall truck/trailer parking lot near the White Sands boat launch.

Paradise Shores started pre-selling lot leases in Calgary before the development was even presented to council. There were RV’s at the site this past summer because it’s allowed in the county’s rules. The RV campers, however, won’t be able to return until the developer meets the conditions outlined by the SDAB.

RELATED: Paradise Shores RV park proceeding

POLL: Are you concerned about the proposed Paradise Shores RV park’s environmental impact on Buffalo Lake?

In May Stettler County council voted in favour of accepting the minutes of the agreement reached between Buffalo Lake South Shore IDP Committee and the developer to scale down the development from 1,000 RV lots to 750 lots.

The Summer Villages of Rochon and White sands filed objections to the development earlier this year. The villages said the development was a subdivision rather than an RV resort.

In March, about 400 people attended a public hearing in Stettler for the proposed high-density RV development. Twenty people spoke against. Only the developer spoke in favour. The county received 32 letters of support and 121 submissions against.

The proposed development was also opposed by a grassroots group of Buffalo Lake area residents led by Darrel Hicke of Calgary. He started an online petition in February that obtained more than 1,000 signatures.

In addition, both Lacombe and Camrose Counties gave Stettler County letters of concern over the project. They said the proposed development didn’t comply with the environmental requirements of the Buffalo Lake Inter-municipal Development Plan that requires any changes in land use or development avoid environmentally sensitive areas and important wildlife habitat. The opposing counties took issue with the developer not completing requirements of the Environmental Review because, to date, the environmental studies only cover Phase I of the development but the developer asked for approval for all three phases.

According to some White Sands residents, all development at the Paradise Shores site has stopped.

The developer could file an appeal to the Court of Appeals to determine if the appeal board followed all the rules when making its decision.

An employee from RV Sites Canada said they have “no comment” on the SDAB ruling.

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