The areas in grey, including annexed land plus future expansion land, is slated to be rezoned to the new holding category of urban reserve. Image: PCPS

Concerns expressed on Ponoka’s zoning amendments for annexed land

New urban reserve holding district draws lots of attention at public hearing

An extensive public hearing regarding the designation of annexed and other land within Ponoka will likely result in a few changes.

Implementing a new urban reserve (UR) zone was spoken about and discussed at Ponoka town council’s Feb. 26 meeting with a focus on the 48 properties the new zoning would directly affect. Details of the annexed land locations were discussed at council’s Jan. 8 meeting.

Parkland Community Planning Services’ Craig Teal updated council on what the UR zoning would mean to the properties.

“This replaces the town’s residential and commercial expansion zones plus any of the annexed land that was still under Ponoka County’s land use bylaw,” said Teal.

“Doing this will streamline the process for the future and clean things up from an administrative function.”

The UR zoning recognizes and honours the existing uses of the land until the landowner decides to develop the property, or the town can convert the land to other zoning designations within its municipal development plan.

RELATED: Ponoka’s annexed land destined for new designation

In addition, Teal noted the new zoning doesn’t affect the current taxation agreement with the former Ponoka County land.

“Because the rezoning is at the request of the town, the agreement — which leaves property owners under the same tax rate prior to being annexed and runs until 2025 — continues without any changes,” he said.

Real estate agent Tyler Fessler was pleased to hear that the land of one of his clients — UFA — will not be part of the UR zoning when the amendment bylaw is finally approved, especially with the property likely to hit the market sometime in the next 12 months.

However, one town landowner remained concerned about permitted uses for his property located across from the Stampede grounds near the Calnash Ag Event Centre.

“It looks like what we are already doing would no longer be allowed as a permitted use,” said Terry Gorrell, who runs a small home business and also boards some horses at his 39 Avenue property.

“I look around at the surrounding properties and all the agricultural activities, it just doesn’t seem right that I can’t board a horse as a permitted use.”

Mayor Rick Bonnett noted that whole section of properties will be looked at prior to the bylaw being approved by council.

Meanwhile, Coun. Teri Underhill asked if the zoning will tie council’s hands on future development near Highway 2 considering there’s a clause that calls for properties to be connected to municipal services.

“It will neither hinder or help,” was Teal’s quick answer.

He added the land-use bylaw overall is focused on urban development, which explains the necessity for municipal service connection. But because of where the property is and the difficulty in servicing it, his suggestion is that any possible changes could be expressed during the development of the West Area Structure Plan — which would be a requirement from Alberta Transportation anyway.

“There could be a special district created since most development out there would not generate significant waste or use much water,” Teal stated. “However, for a full sized convention centre, not so much.”

Once the public hearing portion ended, council accepted a recommendation to leave second reading to a future meeting in order for further consideration of possible amendments.

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