Thursday, November 16, 2017

MD council discusses Lundbreck mobile home park concerns

Chris Davis - At their November 11, 2017 meeting council for the MD of Pincher Creek discussed a letter they received from the owners of the Lundbreck Estates mobile home park about a bylaw the MD passed in August of this year. Bylaw 1277-17 gave the MD's tax assessor "the ability to assess the entire property (land and improvements) in the name of the mobile home park's owner rather than individual mobile homes. In turn, the MD would only collect taxes from the park owner." Owners Ken and Marcia Jewett also asked that the MD allow them to rent out two more lots.
The Jewett's letter to council reads as follows:

"We were extremely dismayed to hear of your eventual passing of Bylaw 1277 - 17. Even though you are allowed to do this under the Municipal Government Act, it still doesn't make the decision morally right or satisfactory on grounds of compassion. In communication with the Manufactured Housing Assodation, it has been revealed that very few municipalities have chosen to take this type of action due to the simple fact that it imposes an extremely onerous and punitive hardship upon the targeted landlord being directed to pay and eventually try and collect taxes upon property they do not own. When you consider the very few benefits a mobile home park receives from the property taxes paid to the M. D., we feel the very least the M. D. can do is collect their own taxes."

"If you are not willing to retract the decision to pass By-law 1277 - 17, then perhaps you can show some compassion and responsibility in a different matter. For whatever reason we (Lundbreck Mobile Estates) are still restricted to rent out only 28 pads out of a total of 30 fully serviced lots. We are requesting that you review this decision as conditions within the Hamlet of Lundbreck have changed since that particular decision was made. It would be a great benefit to us to be able to fill all 30 sites. We feel this would help compensate us for the added burden of tax collection and associated record keeping etc. associated with it."

Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan prepared a background report for council regarding the two extra lots Lundbreck Estates wants to rent out. According to Milligan, in 2007 the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) reviewed concerns raised after a fire in the park, which resulted in the MPC asking the owners to submit an accurate site plan, that Pincher Creek Emergency Services prepare a Fire Fighting Emergency Response Plan to include but not be limited to fire suppression and a hydrant. After that information was reviewed the MPC decided that no development permits would be approved until an adequate fire hydrant was installed. In 2009 the property owners asked the MD reconsider the requirement for another hydrant at the rear of the park, and lift the freeze on development permits, because of upgrades to the Lundbreck water system. 

"In 2010 a request was made to review the park and firefighting capability with the intent to allow development permits be issued to replace trailers that had been removed. After reviewing the file a recommendation was made to allow development permits be issued on limited basis. A revised Fire Fighting /Emergency Response Plan was prepared by Fire Chief Dave Cox. The plan was submitted in request for an updated emergency plan prior to allowing a change in issuing development permits." The MPC relaxed the development restriction somewhat "provided that the replacement home meets the development criteria as outlined in the Land Use Bylaw." No increase in the total amount of homes was allowed. "This allowed the Park to contain the number of homes that were in place at the time of the commencement of the restrictions."

According to Milligan the MPC also considered two different requests to "allow for the swapping of development rights from one lot to another within the Park." In 2011 the MPC granted the transfer the development rights from one lot to another. "In July of 2017, the MPC considered another request from the Park owners to swap development rights once again, to allow the placement of a home on Lot 10 because of the building restrictions on Lot 30." At that meeting the MPC again granted the applicants' request to swap development rights from one lot to another.

In his report Milligan told the current council that "the MPC reaffirms their original position and that they (the park owners) consult with Public Works with regards to the upgrades to the infrastructure occurring in Lundbreck."

Councillor Brian Hammond said the decision had already been made, for valid reasons, to not allow the two extra lots, that the fire risk "makes it a no" because nothing has changed.  Councillor Rick Lemire agreed with Hammond.  Councillor Yagos said the taxation decision was made by the previous council because it was often difficult to collect the taxes from individual lot renters.  In response to a query from councillor Lemire, Milligan said the owners had been asked if they wanted to work with the MD to upgrade the park, and the owners  declined to do so.  Reeve Quentin Stevick commented that the letter stated conditions have changed, but he was hearing they haven't, and asked for clarification.  Councillor Hammond replied that to the MD's knowledge nothing has changed, and "We need to know for sure that nothing has changed."  Councillor Lemire agreed, saying the issue has existed for ten years, so taking a couple of months to be sure wouldn't make a major difference. 

Council unanimously decided to wait for further new information before they would consider altering the earlier decisions regarding the park, and that a letter be sent to the owners reflecting that, reflecting that if the necessary changes were made, according to councillor Yagos, "that would probably solve the problem".

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