Turner Valley council approved a pair of bylaw amendments on July 20 that keep a local brewery's expansion plans on track.
The unanimous votes, to amend the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the Land Use Bylaw (LUB), followed a public hearing and are the next steps in the process for the purchase of land by the applicant, Brauerei Fahr.
“To make a long story short,” brewery owner Jochen Fahr said, “I want to be a good corporate citizen, I want to be part of the community.”
Fahr hopes to purchase the land to build a 25,000-square-foot facility to upgrade from his current 5,000-square-foot building. The new location would hold the brewery as well as a taproom and event space if approved.
Deputy mayor Cindy Holladay said the changes designate the land for commercial use and make it possible to be developed. They enable the applicant to draw up plans to take to the planning commission.
Classified as discretionary under the commercial designation chosen by Fahr, plans need to be approved by the Town’s Municipal Planning Commission before permits are issued, Holladay said.
Several concerns were brought up during the hearing, one of which was removing a “river valley" designation from the land in question.
Holladay said the land, a newly subdivided parcel on Decalta Road, is a flat five acres on top of the hill.
The designation, on a sensitive areas map within the 2004 MDP, had residents questioning the reason the land was designated that way and whether it meant it had previously been contaminated.
Turner Valley CAO Shaun Patience said if that was the case, it’s likely more areas would have that designation.
“I have to make the assumption that it is a river valley marking and it is just simply incorrect,” Patience said. “I’ve been unable to find any rationale for that particular map.”
Planning consultant Beck Soby said that based on a Municipal Environmental Impact Statement, the land does appear to be outside of the river valley.
From council’s point of view, the proposal from Brauerei Fahr has plenty of upside.
Abandoned pipelines on the site would be removed, there would be an opportunity for local employment and a boost in tax revenue, plus tourism opportunities if the award-winning brewery’s plans go ahead.
Coun. Jonathan Gordon said it’s difficult to have an exact figure, but tax revenue from the proposed build would be a significant boost to the Town's bottom line.
“Having a local business that’s willing to grow, that’s one of the main reasons I want to do our best to support it,” Gordon said.
The next step for Fahr is to present development plans to the Town’s Municipal Planning Commission. Buffering from neighbouring properties, and traffic and noise concerns will be looked at then, as well as further soil testing results, before development permits are issued.
The Town will have the opportunity to ask for further studies on ground contamination, or attach conditions to any permits, at its discretion.
Fahr thanked council and residents for the thorough process up to this point.
"It keeps everybody accountable and to the highest standards possible," Fahr said.
Mayor Barry Crane said he appreciated hearing comments and concerns from the public. It’s part of democracy, and it’s important to have those checks, he said, but he fully supports the amendments.
“The goal of council is to make decisions for the community as a whole,” Crane said.