Land use bylaw amendment approved

With only one opponent to a land use change, Ponoka town council approved a rezoning request following a public hearing May 14.

With only one opponent to a land use change, Ponoka town council approved a rezoning request following a public hearing May 14.

The request came from Jamil Rawji, who represents Jakkids Holdings. He asked that land on 4800 60 Street next to the Old Iron Horse restaurant be changed to low density multi-family, and to highway commercial from low density residential.

About 70 per cent of the site would be for low-density multi-family development and the remainder would be for highway commercial property. Although there is no set plan yet, Rawji spoke about his vision for the area.

He would like to see development “primarily catering to our 55 + group.”

One of his ideas is to build duplexes or possibly fourplexes on the residential portion of land.

Mayor Larry Henkelman is in favour of the plan as the town is usually short of land to sell. He wondered whether there would be any trees or fencing to divide the residential and industrial area.

Betty Jurykoski, planning and development officer for Ponoka, said the town can make such a stipulation. “We have the right to require that under the division application.”

“You can approve it with or without conditions,” she added.

Henkelman’s concern was those requirements were not made in other developments and some residents are now complaining.

Without a barrier of some kind, Rawji feels it would make the area an eyesore for residents and his intention is to build one. “It has to be aesthetically pleasing.”

Ashley Shannon has property neighbouring Rawji’s. She was concerned the development may affect the value of her home. “It worries me that when you have multi dwellings, what are you opening up to?”

The largest lot size allowable in the area however would be duplexes and Rawji’s hope was not to devalue the property as he has family who own land nearby.

His goal is to eventually develop “up-scale” properties for seniors. “I envision my own dad being there.”

“I want it to be something that we can market and sell,” he later added.

Shannon was still nervous about the negative potential but Henkelman tried to ease her concern.

“Even if it’s a duplex there’s still requirements that have to be set,” he explained.

Surplus into savings

Councillors appeared pleased to be able to set aside $1.3 million into savings after realizing a surplus in 2012. Betty Quinlan, director of corporate services feels the transfer is a good news story.

Of the $1.3 million, $600,000 is surplus in the electrical department. Quinlan says the surplus is due to the electrical foreman monitoring job efficiency.

That $600,000 went into the electrical reserve to deal with issues that may arise later on.

Sale of land in the southwest industrial land also brought a surplus of $250,000 and will be transferred to the development reserve. There was also $385,000 planned for transfer plus savings and expenses being under $90,000. This money was transferred to the general benefit reserve.

Coun. Shayne Steffen feels the transfer to the electrical department will be a benefit to the town.

“Treat it as a business…Because we’re going to need that money at some point.”

Proposals for arena concession

So far there have been two proposals to Wes Amendt, director of community services, to run the arena concession. Both are local.

“Both have good references and at this point I wouldn’t feel badly about either one,” said Amendt.

He feels better about having more options. “It’s nice to actually have a choice this time.”

Henkelman wondered if the town was going to start requiring deposits from vendors but Amendt replied he has not requested one as there are startup costs associated.

New EDB member

Council appointed Danny Lineham, owner of Siding 14 Art Gallery, as a member of the economic development board. As he is taking over for an open position his term is from May 2013 to October 2013. Bonnett feels he will be able to assist the board. “He’s been a valuable asset to the economic development board.”