Debate on Rossland hobby farms re-ignited

Rossland City Council has re-opened the zoning amendment debate by discussing whether to allow a property owner to subdivide 8 acres.

The happy road to Happy Valley Road is set to be paved with promise as conversation will be engaged anew on subdividing an eight-acre piece of pastoral property.

City council re-opened the Official Community Plan (OCP) zoning amendment debate by discussing whether to allow a property owner on Happy Valley Road to subdivide her eight-acre property.

On July 25, 2011 the council of the day voted to allow the owner, Brenda Trenholme, to orchestrate “one or more public consultation(s) in order to receive additional input from the community” on subdividing.

Trenholme had first come to council seeking help in her quest to alleviate the very large tax burden she was shouldering—along with other valley owners who have larger plots of land—to maintain her property and the pastoral setting of the area.

She noted agriculture in the valley was not working: she could not “give away” use of the land as pasture for grazing animals in the wake of the provincial abattoir law changing regulations regarding local meat production.

In fact, many small farms no longer kept animals, she said, and keeping the land for agriculture, as the city bylaw dictated, would hamper her efforts to sell part of it off.

Concern was raised last year that approval of the proposal could lead to a number of future applications from other landowners who wanted to subdivide. But discussion of the issue on smaller acreages in the city was needed, said councillor Cary Fisher.

Most people support keeping hobby farms in the city, he said, but that sentiment sours when it comes time to pay city tax on sizable properties.

“There are some areas outside the city of Rossland to have (hobby farms). Inside the city, we have to start looking at these things to alleviate the burden of the tax people have to pay,” he said. “It’s a good time for us to be looking at that area.”

The proposed amendment would designate Trenholme’s property from rural residential under the OCP—and the zoning from rural residential ‘A’—to permit a subdivision on the property.

Trenholme sweetened the deal for council. The only road from Rossland that provides access to the City’s cemetery currently crosses her property. She offered to deed that road to the City.

Her proposal leaves an existing home on more acreage (three) than normal in the valley, creating a legal five-acre parcel that she wanted to build on that would be in conformance with the bylaw.

“That makes sense to me the way it is laid out,” said councillor Jill Spearn. “Her kids have moved on and she wants to stay on the property where she raised her family and lived with her husband. And we could potentially benefit by having that road through to the cemetery.”

She said the ideas around agriculture, food production and sustainability in the city was wonderful, but most people did not have the time to get into agriculture within the city.

A council motion carried to allow Trenholme to hold public meetings on subdividing her property. No date was set for the next meeting.

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