Reader encourages others to speak out against County subdivision proposal

A previous County news article on this subject may have been a little misleading. On Nov. 19 a small victory was accomplished by local farmers and adjacent landowners in regard to an amendment to a Local Area Structure plan on a proposed 107 acre development ~ 3 km northwest of the Village of Delburne. This Kerry Meadows subdivision would turn an important wetland area into a 28 lot CR1 residential development. The amendment that was defeated would have increased the number of lots to 33.

Several concerned citizens spoke at the public hearing. All were objecting to the development of this area. Local area farmers raised concerns about how this development would impact their ability to do business. Issues around the ability to spray crops adjacent to a residential development, and the ability to move machinery in an area with increased traffic were raised. Adjacent landowners do not want to lose this important natural wetland, as it is an important part of a larger wetland in the surrounding area. The proposed access road cuts through and around sloughs. There are no setbacks from the high water mark of the sloughs. Issues were raised about the suitability of this area for residential development as many lots are in low-lying areas. The sloughs have no outlet and with increased post development run off there is a real possibility of flooded lots and access road.

The Local Area Structure Plan in place (28 lot) and the proposed amendment to this ASP do not meet the requirements of the recently updated County Municipal Development Plan (2012). It opposes the stated goal of the Environmental Stewardship Section 5 which states “To protect the natural environmental resources including lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, riparian areas, forests, native range, groundwater, and healthy, productive soils in the County”. Local and provincial governments spend taxpayers money to restore wetlands, and riparian areas around wetlands. Developing a wetland area is counterproductive to these programs.

The plans also includes separate sewage disposal on each lot. This does not comply with Section 4 of the MDP which states, “Residential developments will be serviced by connections to existing municipal water and sanitary sewer services. Approval of multi-lot residential development unable to connect to existing or planned services shall be at the discretion of the County, but will generally not be supported”. This is an extremely important issue as sewage fields would be located in low-lying areas.

Initial development of this area started in 2010/2011. Topsoil was removed and the initial development of the access road was started. A stop work order was issued to the developer after sloughs were being filled up with trees and topsoil. It did not take long for the developer to forget about his previous public hearing promise “Dedication of the wetlands in the subdivision will provide more protection than currently exists”. A subsequent investigation by Alberta Environment revealed that development had started without approval and that Water Act violations had occurred. The developer was forced to remediate the damage to the wetlands.

Before approval is given to restart development, the developer is required to apply for Subdivision. Engineering studies will need to be completed, as the previous ones have expired. I and other area residents do not want to see this important natural wetland area turn into a residential housing development. If you agree, let your concerns be known.

Lorne Keeping

Red Deer County

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