The areas in grey, which include land Ponoka annexed from the county as well as commercial and residential reserve holdings, will become part of the newly generated zone called Urban Reserve should the Land Use Bylaw amendment be approved by town council. Image: PCPS

Ponoka’s annexed land destined for new designation

Former county land will be placed in new ‘urban reserve’ zone, though no change to current uses

After several years of letting it be, Ponoka is finally getting around to bringing the annexed areas into its municipal land use plan.

A proposal to amend the town’s current land use bylaw to include an urban reserve (UR) designation was made at town council’s Jan. 8 meeting. First reading was passed by council following a presentation from director of planning and development Tim Schmidt and Craig Teal with Parkland Community Planning Services (PCPR).

The new district will include all of the land obtained from Ponoka County back in 2011 and essentially creates a holding classification. Current uses for that land — along with other properties the town has set aside for potential residential development — won’t change as a result of the new designation.

“Right now, there are three different land usage versions governing the annexed land and other land in town that isn’t quite ready for full development. Yet, the town still has to manage the land usages in those areas,” noted Teal.

“The purpose of the amendment is to do that job as well as to replace the town’s two current holding districts and remove the annexed land from being under the county’s land use bylaw.”

Teal added UR will still allow agricultural and low intensity uses until a development is proposed for that property.

That would trigger the process of determining what services are needed, any affect to the town’s master plan would impact development and other studies needed.

“Depending on the pace of growth, some of these lands may be in this holding district for quite a while. So, we do have to accommodate some form of usage of the land that was inherited,” he stated.

The amendment will also provide a measure of control for the town by ensuring it knows how the land is being used.

“This is all part of the west area structure plan that we will be bring back to council in our policy development to see how we can accommodate any issues as they arise, including helping to develop along that highway corridor,” he said.

A public hearing on the proposed amendment is slated for Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.

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