Council for the RM of Ritchot has voted against a request that would have rezoned some agricultural land in the municipality. 

The land in question is located along Provincial Road 200, just north of St. Adolphe. According to Mayor Chris Ewen, though the land is zoned Agricultural, it is not usable agricultural land. 

"Maybe once upon a time there was the ability to farm it, but it's just a piece of property that overgrows," notes Ewen.

The request was for it to be rezoned from Agricultural Limited Zone (AL) to Commercial Highway Zone (CH). 

Following a public hearing, the matter was sent to the Municipal Board, which recommended that Ritchot Council deny the request. At last week's Council meeting, Council did just that. However, Council was not unanimous in its decision.

Ewen was the lone Council member to vote in favour of the rezoning. Ewen says the applicant was hoping to place a light commercial shop on that property, noting there is already an exit off the highway onto that property.

"This was a very unique circumstance, where it really wasn't strong agricultural, there wasn't a great opportunity to farm this land," says Ewen, explaining the reason behind his opinion. "It was just a matter of putting the building there and letting this applicant use the space to its fullest potential, which would have been the shop."

According to Ewen, the Municipal Board felt that this request did not fit with Ritchot's Development Plan for the area. Further to that, Ewen says the province is trying to prevent Agricultural Land from being rezoned. And though Ewen says he is usually one to agree with keeping Agricultural Land as is, this is a special circumstance.

"(I) totally understand and respect Council's decision," says Ewen. "At the end of the day, I support Council as a whole once the decision is made but these are special circumstances that need to be looked at a little bit more."

Ewen says 99 times out of 100 he supports the recommendation from the Municipal Board. But he says every once in a while, you get a situation like this, where the land in question cannot be farmed and it just makes most sense for it to be rezoned. He says Council is not willing to rock the boat.

"But I'm willing to rock the boat a little bit for special circumstances and I think this is one of them," he adds.