Heidelberg Materials Canada Limited has withdrawn its development permit for a concrete batch plant on its gravel pit adjacent to the Precedence neighbourhood and intends to further engage the public and town before reapplying.

In a letter to the town yesterday, Heidelberg officials requested the cancellation of its building permit that was approved by the Cochrane Planning Commission on Apr. 17.

"Our company recognizes the need to share more details with residents about the project, explain the design features that minimize impacts to residents and the environment, as well as better describe the benefits of the project to the community and the local economy," the letter explains.

"It is our intention to re-engage residents and town officials to share information and collect additional input to support a future development permit application for this project."

Previous to this, 99 Cochrane residents signed an appeal, outlining 52 concerns, that was submitted to both the town and provincial Land and Property Rights Tribunal on May 16.

Paul Trotter, who was among those preparing the appeal, says the withdrawal of the development permit is far from a victory.

"It's not a win for us because we were ready for the appeal," says Trotter.  "We put a lot of effort into filing the appeal and were looking forward to asking some questions and getting some more information. The appeal would require the town to disclose their entire file."

Even when Heidelberg reapplies, he questions if a public hearing will be held. The Cochrane Planning Commission made the original decision. A public hearing was not required because the property has the appropriate land use.

"Unless the town requires it, it will go back to the planning commission again," he says. "It's round two and no public input at a public hearing, and as far as I know, the same people will be asked to make the decision again."

He says the concerned citizens have been denied access to the town file on the building permit application, and they are in the process of FOIPing the information.

Heidelberg map
On Mar. 20, Mayor Jeff Genung sent a letter to residents who had voiced concern. It spoke to significant adjustments made by Heidelberg from its original plans to address potential dust, noise, health, and environmental impacts. He told the residents having a concrete batch plant was nothing new to Cochrane; one was located on Burnco land, now the Greystone community, in the late 70s.

"It is also worth noting that currently, there is no concrete plant in or near the community, and all cement must be trucked from Calgary, resulting in a substantial increase in highway and truck traffic and associated pollution," states Genung's letter.

Mayor Genung has spoken publicly on the issue at least three times recently and says misinformation is circulated on the batch plant. He encourages residents to become informed of the facts.

Trotter says they agree--they want all the facts to come out and believe that's only possible by holding a public hearing.

In the meantime, a GoFundMe has raised over $4,000 from the concerned citizens to pay for expert witnesses, legal fees, and promotion should a public hearing proceed.