Half of the proposed changes to the joint development plan between Sturgeon County and St. Albert are moving forward, but county councillors want more public input before moving forward on other proposed changes.
Council followed St. Albert’s lead and gave first reading to proposed changes to the intermunicipal plan (IDP) that would exempt the Northern Lights subdivision from the document.
The first reading allows for the proposed amendments to go to a joint public hearing with both councils on March 31.
Another set of proposed amendments that would exempt the annexed lands and the proposed Quail Ridge development were tabled until after a town hall meeting on the issue, scheduled for March 7.
Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney said when the planned changes were first brought to council, it was clear some landowners were concerned and council wanted to hear more. “Some of the landowners felt that it was unfair or inequitable, but I think, in fairness we have to wait to see what all landowners have to say.”
The IDP gives the two municipalities input on development proposals in the fringes near both communities and sets out a staging for future annexations. The two communities have to agree to changes to land use in the IDP area before any development can proceed.
The Northern Lights development is an acreage subdivision that was initially planned so half of the lots would be set aside to have small businesses set up along with homes.
The existing developer is eager to re-designate those lands to remove the home-based business component.
Rigney said it is good to see this part of the process moving forward because the Northern Lights changes are relatively minor. He said the two communities are going to do better in the long run if they get out of each other’s way. “We pulled out the roadblocks for Erin Ridge and as I said before, a rising tide lifts all ships and when my neighbours prosper, I prosper.”
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said the Northern Lights change is relatively basic and he sees no reason to slow it down, but the other set of changes could be more difficult.
“The other amendment is quite a bit more complicated, but we will have to see what happens at the open house and the public hearings.”
Coun. Tom Flynn, who represents much of the IDP area, said he has heard from several landowners in the area who don’t want their property in the county in the plan, especially if all of St. Albert’s land is out.
“The landowners want to get treated the same as what is being proposed for others,” he said. “That is really the issue that comes forward quickly.”
Rigney said his primary concern with the IDP is that landowners in one community can be tied up by the administration and elected officials of another.
“People who live in St. Albert, who work in St. Albert, vote and pay their taxes in St. Albert have their land controlled to some degree by a municipality where they have no recourse.”