Municipal Development Plan determines subdivision policy
When a person wants to subdivide out a parcel from a quarter section of land, adjust the boundary between two existing parcels, or develop a multi-lot subdivision, the Municipal Government Act and the Land Titles Act require that they obtain the approval of the County. In order to enable consistent decision making by the Subdivision Authority, County Council developed policies in the Municipal Development Plan. In summary the current policies provide that:
- Every landowner of an unsubdivided quarter section has the right to subdivide two parcels out of a quarter section without the requirement to rezone the parcels out of the agricultural district. Farmstead parcels of a size that accommodates the farm yard up to 10 acres and bare parcels of up to 5 acres must make a financial contribution to the Rural Development Fund in the amount of $50. For farmstead parcels larger than the actual farm yard and bare parcels larger than 5 acres the financial contribution to the Rural Development Fund is $1,000 per acre.
- When a landowner wants to subdivide additional parcels out of a quarter section, i.e. a third or additional parcel(s), the minimum number of parcels that must be subdivided out is five (certain exemptions apply). This means that after the first two parcels have been subdivided, a landowner must undertake multi-lot subdivision if they wanted to subdivide additional parcels. The multi-lot subdivision process is more involved and requires several planning approvals, some of which are on provincial level, including an area structure plan, engineering studies, and a development agreement, which includes a security deposit for all improvements that will be transferred to the county (e.g. public roads). The developer also has to dedicate environmental and/or municipal reserves to the county.
- There is an exemption to the multi-lot subdivision requirement of a minimum of five parcels, which allows a landowner to subdivide fewer than five parcels, provided specific criteria apply. Please contact the Planning and Development department for more information.
When a landowner subdivides a second or additional parcel(s) out of a quarter section, the County will require the dedication of environmental and/or municipal reserves, the latter typically in the form of cash in-lieu-of land. The manner of determining and agreeing on the land values for this purpose is explained in Policy PD 4.5 Municipal and Environmental Reserve Values.
Timing of Decisions
The Municipal Government Act states that a municipality must make a decision on a subdivision application within 60 days of receiving a complete application. Usually the County is able to meet this processing timeline; however if we do not, the applicant has the option of deeming the application refused and appealing it to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board or entering into an agreement with the County to extend the timeline.
If you are planning to apply for a subdivision it may be helpful to review the Land Use Bylaw, the Planning and Subdivision Guidelines and its Attachment, and other relevant County policies in order to better understand the statutory requirements and the format and content requirements of an application. Also, in order to save you time and resources, it is advisable to call the Planning and Development department at 403-742-4441 to discuss your proposal before you file an application.
Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells
Pursuant to Alberta Energy Regulator Directive 079 and as part of the subdivision application review process, the Planning and Development department will assist you in determining the location of any abandoned oil and gas wells on your land. If an abandoned well is located on your property, you would have to contact the licensee to determine the exact location and any setback requirements, which you would have to accommodate into the planning of your proposed subdivision.
Road Access and Approaches into Parcels
The County requires that the applicant for a subdivision application dedicates 4.9415 meters road allowance widening to the County at no cost in accordance with Policy PD 4.4 Road Dedication, Upgrades and Subdivision Registration along all the road frontages of the quarter section that are not already 30 metres (100 feet) wide. Road dedication shall be by way of a road plan and the cost of preparing and registering the road plan shall be the applicant's responsibility.
Satisfactory arrangements must be made with the County of Stettler No. 6 for access to the proposed parcel and the remainder of the quarter-section, including the construction or upgrading of approaches and off-site access roads, where deemed necessary. Please refer to the County's Policy PW 2.6 Installation of Approaches and Culverts and its Attachment, Policy PW 2.9 Road Construction, and Policy PW 2.10 Road Specifications and its Attachment. You may be eligible for road construction cost sharing from the County (see Policy PW 2.13).
Access to the proposed parcel or the remainder of the quarter section from a highway falls under the jurisdiction of Alberta Transportation, and the County will refer a copy of your subdivision application to them.
Gravel Road Dust Reduction
You may be required to hard surface a road when your multi-lot subdivision is within one mile of existing pavement, or to provide dust control where your subdivision impacts other residences. The Municipal Development Plan and Policy PW 2.2 Gravel Road Dust Reduction provide more information.
Private Sewage Disposal System
For the subdivision of an existing farmstead, the applicant must obtain written confirmation from an accredited safety codes officer that the sewage disposal system complies with the Private Sewage Disposal Systems Regulation (Alberta Regulation 229/97) respecting the setback distances from property lines, buildings, bodies of water, and water sources. Please note that any issues identified by the safety codes officer regarding the operation of the sewage disposal system must be corrected before the final approval will be given to the subdivision application.
The type of private sewage disposal system that exist on a farmstead or that you plan to install on a bare parcel will be the determining factor for the size of the parcel that you want to subdivide. The County policies encourages a smaller parcel size whenever possible in order to preserve agricultural land. If a larger parcel is proposed in order to meet the minimum setback distances from an open discharge type of private sewage disposal system to new property boundaries, the County's policies provide for a monetary contribution to the Rural Development Fund. Please call the Planning and Development department for more information.
For multi-lot subdivisions you will be required to prepare an outline plan or an area structure plan and engineering studies, as well as enter into a development agreement with the County. Policy PW 2.17 Engineering Design Guidelines and General Construction Specifications describes the relevant requirements.
Community and Street Names
For a multi-lot subdivision you would have to provide a community name and street names (see Policy PD 4.2 Community and Road Naming Guidelines).
The applicant must comply with the County's Rural Addressing Bylaw relative to making arrangements for civic addressing of the new lot(s).
There may be other aspects that impact your subdivision. It is our role to advise you of these matters. Please contact us for more information at 403-742-4441.