Previous development decisions are now placing pressures on Ponoka County with how to move forward with new development applications.
Four public hearings on separate rezoning applications were held on Tuesday, July 12 as part of Ponoka County’s regular meeting with two requests to subdivide portions to country residential hobby farm being approved.
The other two applications – which involved rezoning land for multi-lot country residential divisions – ended with one denial and one being deferred to council’s next meeting on Aug. 23.
The issue at the top of the list regarding both applications was about vehicle access in and out of the two proposed projects as well as what the potential increased traffic would do to surrounding roads if those issues aren’t addressed. However, it wasn’t the only issue regarding each application.
Daryl and Roberta Renaud put forward a proposal to rezone 52 acres that is presently bordered by three developments in the Meridian Beach area – Meridian Country Estates, North Shores and Lone Tree Estates.
While the residents that showed up for the hearing and those in the written submissions weren’t opposed, all of the concerns expressed were about access.
Ponoka County chief administrative officer Charlie Cutforth explained the three previous subdivisions were approved with one access point, via either Range Road 284 or through Meridian Beach, something that now poses a problem for the county. It was added that traffic and an incident that blocked the road in Meridian Beach left part of the area with no access if an emergency took place, something residents are extremely concerned about.
There potential second access options were presented, though Cutforth explained that the option of a road east through into the Lone Tree Estates wasn’t really feasible as a previous council promised that would not be done and it would dramatically affect both developments.
The other options were to upgrade and extend the road that leads to present waste water treatment facility or construct an access to Range Road 284 that would run along the north edge of Lone Tree Estates. Though Cutforth warned that last option would only be appropriate if council thought there would be no more development to the north, a possibility that he explained as “not realistic” given the amount of development going on around the lake and the expectation that it will continue to be busy.
His recommendation, which was accepted, was that council defer a decision on the rezoning until discussions about a reasonable second access option can be held, which is timely now since the resistance the county met in developing the road allowance to the west might not be as much now.
“Even if this development doesn’t proceed, there needs to be talks about another access to these developments. We don’t want to affect existing, but we can’t leave it alone again as it’s not acceptable to the area’s residents either,” he said.
“(The county) needs to take responsibility for the piece meal decision-making and look at the potential if plans continue to the north.”
For the application by Battle River Carpentry, owned by Allan Vandenbroek, the 80 acre parcel located along Range Road 252 southeast of Ponoka was proposed to be developed into a 10-lot subdivision split between six lots suitable for upscale homes housing of horses with the other four set at the east side of the property currently filled with trees.
During the hearing, Vandenbroek spoke of the interest there is in those kind of properties especially so close to town and his hopes to use the development for his family’s future and that of his business. He added the land is not good for agricultural purposes – which the county’s planning consultant agreed with.
However, a couple of adjacent landowners were on hand and told council that access is an issue, something council agreed with considering the potential for issues similar to what was discussed with the Renaud application. In addition, council worried about the proximity of the proposal to the nearby dairy farming operation, which may make it subject to provincial restrictions, as well as the fact there are no subdivisions presently in that area.
“The difference here is (with this application) is this the right location?” stated Cutforth.
“This would be a typical one for 10 lots if the adjacent land is similar – such as near the lakes – and what planning do we need if nearby owners want to develop their land. The challenging component with this application is that we are close to the dairy, will this have a negative impact on farm activity in the area and that these developments likely attract a different type of resident so you do run a risk here.”
Those challenges proved to be too much for council to accept and the proposed rezoning was denied.