The District of Kent Council gave first and second reading to a zoning bylaw to allow Neal’s Electric to continue operating on agricultural property.
The teBrinke family has been operating the electrical business on the property since 1988. The property is currently being used for agricultural, residential and business purposes. According to a staff report to Council, the portion of the property used for business purposes is 1.8 per cent of the total property.
The bylaw passed the two readings at the Jan. 26 Council meeting, with Coun. Sylvia Pranger opposed and councillors Duane Post, Susan Spaeti and Darcy Striker in favour.
“How come this business can operate on agricultural land, whereas other ones are being denied?” asked Coun. Pranger in the meeting.
Director of Development Services Darcey Kohuch responded that all farm use applications go through Council and that some are supported while some aren’t.
Mayor John Van Laerhoven told The Observer it is the District’s responsibility to follow through on an application sent to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and discuss the rezoning at the local government level.
“The ALC is happy with allowing them to continue to operate, and the teBrinkes are prepared to follow the conditions,” says Van Laerhoven.
Coun. Darcy Striker says he voted in favour because the business has been there a long time and Council wants to ensure businesses are compliant.
“We don’t want to shut them down. We want to make them compliant.” Striker explains.
The ALC approved the continued use of a portion of the property for the existing electrical business subject to conditions. The conditions include the business to not exceed the existing space, to not be sold, to allow the business to operate for no longer than an additional 40 years on the property, or until the property is sold, whichever comes first, and the approval is granted for the sole benefit of the applicant (Neal and Natalie teBrinke) and their children is non-transferable beyond this restriction.
In the ALC report, it states “the Commission determined that in this particular case, the continuation of the business is not problematic provided it is contained within the existing footprint and will be discontinued when the applicants no longer own the property, or within 40 years, whichever occurs first.”
A public hearing for the zoning bylaw is set for Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. prior to the regularly-scheduled Council meeting.