Ponoka County council will wait to hear from its ratepayers before taking a formal position on their neighbour’s annexation proposal.
County CAO Charlie Cutforth told councillors last week he has received a copy of the Town of Ponoka’s notification to the provincial Municipal Government Board that annexation proceedings have begun.
“From the county’s point of view we have to deal with it as it comes,” he said. “Our position ahs been from the outset, the town can go to the affected landowners, and if they have no objection, the county has not objection.
“However if they do, it puts council in a position where there’s an expectation from those people that you would support their position,” Cutforth he told council. “It’s a tough thing when there’s so much objection from the ratepayers.”
He said Ponoka County understands the town’s need to grow and to plan years ahead for that growth. To that end, the county has offered to agree to a plan whereby the Town of Ponoka would have full development rights to a certain area of county land at their borders “and if a proposal comes forward we will agree to immediate annexation if they (developer) need town services.”
A letter from Mayor Larry Henkelman was recently mailed to affected county landowners. It advises the county residents that the town’s consultant, Armin A. Preiksaitis & Associates, will meet with them to explain the town’s growth plans and to address any of their concerns.
In the letter, the Town of Ponoka promises:
• taxes will be kept at the lesser of the county or town’s rate for 10 years following annexation as long as the land is not sold or rezoned;
• existing uses will be grandfathered, including the keeping of animals;
• existing agricultural operations will be allowed to continue;
• the town will remove snow from roads in the annexed areas;
• annexed landowners will be exempted from paying utility franchise fees for 10 years, unless the land is sold or rezoned.
Meetings with ratepayers are scheduled for Aug. 31, Sept. 1, 2, 4, 10 and 11.