Netook 'shocked' as MDP approved
There was nothing premature about Mountain View County council adopting the new Municipal Development Plan almost a month earlier than previously announced, Reeve Bruce Beattie said Thursday.
“I really think we dealt with all the issues we had to deal with,” Beattie told the Gazette.
“After 18 months of deliberation ... we felt as a council that we heard just about everything we could possibly hear.”
In a press release that day, the county was slammed by the developers of Netook Crossing, who said they were “disappointed and shocked” by council’s “premature approval” Wednesday of the new MDP.
“Taxpayers have no way of knowing if any of the concerns expressed at the public hearing were addressed in the final MDP,” Terry Johnston of Prodev was quoted in the release. “Council provided no summary, explanation or response to what was heard through this ‘engagement’ process at its July 18 meeting.”
Beattie, who had predicted last month that final reading would be given Aug. 15 after council’s summer break, said council decided to move to final reading on the day of the meeting because outstanding issues with the towns had been addressed and no public feedback was received at the second scheduled day of hearings on July 4.
“We’ve been talking about this for 18 months and there’s people out there waiting on applications,” Beattie said.
“What I heard at the public hearing was that there was no clear indication that there were major concerns on the document. Netook is concerned … because they want to build a small town outside of Olds and we’ve told them over and over again that we’re not going to put our ratepayers at risk to put a small town outside of Olds.”
At Wednesday’s meeting, councillors said they had been surprised by the relatively small turnout from the agricultural community, but concluded that the absence demonstrated trust.
“I can say with confidence that the majority of people I’ve talked to really support this because it was developed with their input,” Div. 1 Coun. Kevin Good said.
Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere said there were some items in the MDP that he had reservations about, “but overall for the county it’s a good plan,” he added.
“We can now move forward with a document that planning can work with.”
“We did work hard to engage the public,” Div. 6 Coun. Paddy Munro said.
The MDP divides the county into three land-use areas – the Agricultural Preservation Area, the Potential Multi-Lot Residential Development Area, and Concentrated Confined Feeding Operations Area.
The Agricultural Preservation Area –comprising most of the lands east of Highway 22 outside town growth centres – is intended to “only allow for first parcel out residential development to ensure productive agricultural land in the county is preserved for agricultural purposes,” the MDP says.
“Subdivision and development applications that deviate from this general policy approach within the Agricultural Preservation Area are strongly discouraged and shall require significant justification and supporting evidence.”
The area’s boundaries are based “as a starting point” on Canada Land Inventory class 1, 2 and 3 soils, combined with Environmentally Significant Areas mapping.
The Potential Multi-Lot Residential Development Area will allow up to four titled lots per quarter (three new country-residential lots plus the balance), subject to neighbour consultation and council approval. Lot sizes must be two to three acres, though up to five acres will be considered, and lands that are “considered high-quality forage lands shall not be subdivided for low-density residential development.”
Another condition for low-density residential development is tenure of ownership, as it “should only be permitted if the landowner has held title to the quarter section for at least five years,” the MDP says.
The Concentrated Confined Feeding Operations Area is based on concentrations of three or more CFOs where their setbacks overlap. These areas, situated mainly south and east of Olds, “are not ideal for development, including first-parcel-out subdivision,” says the document.
The MDP sets the minimum agricultural parcel size at 40 acres, double the current 20 acres.
Growth Centres are identified around the towns of Olds, Didsbury, Sundre and Carstairs, the Village of Cremona and the rural neighbourhood of Water Valley. In these areas, multi-lot residential development (five lots up to a maximum of 48 lots per quarter) can be allowed if supported by an approved area structure plan. While the maximum lot size will be determined as part of the ASP process, the minimum is set at two acres.
The Special Policy Area for Highway 27 also sets 48 residential lots per quarter as a maximum, but increases that number to 80 if the development is connected to municipal water and sewer systems. The MDP specifies that the Highway 2/27 area will be redesignated to Direct Control District to “help ensure that council’s direction for this Special Policy Area is followed.” The minimum lot size is set at one acre and the maximum at two acres.
In their release, the Netook developers say they will be “reviewing the approved MDP in consideration with its development over the course of the next few weeks to determine their course of action.”