After more than three years of attempts to bring a local property within bylaw zoning requirements, the Regional District of Bulkely Nechako (RDBN) had decided to proceed with legal action against the property owner.
The property, just east of Burns Lake, is described by the RDBN as being used by the property owner for log storage and processing.
Although the owner is not identified in the RDBN staff report, Klaus Posselt, owner of Tahtsa Timber Ltd. and other local enterprises, is the property owner in question.
“It’s a long-standing issue that we’ve attempted to resolve through a couple of rezoning applications over the last couple of years,” said Jason Llewellyn, RDBN director of planning. “We haven’t had much communication with the property owner over the last year. The activities on the property are continuing to increase.”
The agenda of regularly scheduled RDBN board meetings typically include applications or complaints regarding infringements of RDBN bylaws and zoning designations, especially when it comes to proceeding with property use or changes prior to obtaining RDBN approval.
In this case, RDBN board members were not interested in letting the irregular situation with the lot slide into the future.
“In my mind, he’s not trying to play by the rules at all,” said Director Stoney Stoltenberg of the property owner. “We have to go by the letter of the law when somebody is in contravention of a zoning bylaw, they don’t. They just do whatever they want.”
“Enough is enough,” he said. “Otherwise we might as well just go through and get rid of every zoning bylaw we’ve got and just let people do what they want.”
Director Bill Miller had excused himself from the discussion and vote due to a perceived conflict of interest. The remaining directors approved a motion to work with RDBN solicitors to ‘undertake the actions necessary to obtain compliance to RDBN bylaws’ at the property in question.
According to the staff report prepared by Llewellyn, the action will likely include a petition for a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to cease operations and remove the logs from the property.
As reported in Lakes District News, a Dec. 19, 2011 RDBN board meeting had three local residents express concerns regarding noise and light pollution from the log processing activities on the site.
After that meeting, an agreement between Posselt and the RDBN was almost reached. Although a third and final reading of the bylaw and been made and approved, concerns raised by Posselt’s lawyer concerning possible implications of the agreement forced the RDBN board of directors to rescind their approval on March 22, 2012.
A slowdown in activity and a decrease in stored logs on the property during most of 2012 had made RDBN staff hopeful that the properties were being brought into compliance, Llewellyn’s report said.
The resumption of activities in 2013 dashed those hopes.
“It appears that the processing activity is relatively continuous in nature,” reads Llewellyn’s report. “Staff receives ongoing complaints from area residents.”
Posselt declined to comment on the situation, although he indicated that he had purchased land elsewhere and may move operations there, which would not, he said, benefit Burns Lake.