City council designates industrial land
St. Albert decision rankles Sturgeon County councillors
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 07:15 pm
The City of St. Albert now has 617 more acres of industrial land within its borders after council officially redistricted a parcel at the city’s western edge.
Council concluded a process that’s been in the works for months by approving second and third readings to the municipal development plan and intermunicipal development plan Monday night, officially redistricting an area dubbed the employment lands, which border the western edge of Ray Gibbon Drive north of Big Lake.
With Monday night’s vote, the municipal development plan, for the first time in six years, spells out the exact zoning for every single parcel of land within the city’s boundaries.
“One hundred per cent of all landowners now have clarity as to what their land is zoned for,” Mayor Nolan Crouse said. “If they don’t like it, they can sell.”
Council’s move signals that the city is open for business, Crouse said.
But the meeting was not without some contention as council shrugged off a last minute appeal from Sturgeon County Coun. Tom Flynn to delay the public hearing until both sides could meet to discuss several outstanding issues.
“We’ve had our eyes on getting something done with another (industrial park) so to finish that off (Monday) night was a key decision for council,” said Crouse.
But Flynn, accompanied by county Couns. Joe Milligan, David Kluthe, Ken McGillis and Don McGeachy, as well as county commissioner Peter Tarnawsky and some staff, asked the city to delay its decision.
“We have to live with (the amendments) or fight them and I’d much rather us sit down at the table and discuss the issues that are in front of us,” Flynn said. “They are all issues we can solve if we sit across from each other, if we sit across from them at the table, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Flynn read out several of the county’s concerns, including the impact of industrial development on county residents to St. Albert’s north, density concerns, potential servicing problems and the city’s repeated amendments to the intermunicipal development plan, even though the county pulled out of the agreement several years ago.
The plan spells out how the two sides are supposed to deal with planning issues, such as annexations and development along one another’s borders. The city says it still references the plan because it is a detailed planning document, a contention that irritates the county as it contends that, because the county rescinded the plan, the city must do so as well.
“Originally we had very little problem with the (municipal development plan) amendments, but as time unfolded we had some residents raise some concerns and some developers bring some concerns to us that made us aware of things,” Flynn said.
One of those concerns is word that some city stormwater and sewer lines that would service land the city annexed in 2007 appear to cut through county lands. Carol Bergum, senior long-range planner for the City of St. Albert, said running services through Sturgeon was one of several routes being contemplated but no formal decision had been made.
Crouse reacted to Flynn’s presentation by wondering aloud if, by repealing the intermunicipal development plan, the county had liberated the city of having to share hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue from the Walmart site, which was jointly agreed upon more than a decade ago.
“Are you suggesting we also consider reviewing that?” Crouse asked Flynn.
“I’m not sure that was part of the (intermunicipal development plan), but I’d have to clarify that,” Flynn replied.
Council later passed a motion asking for the city manager to develop a plan showing how the two municipalities can resolve some of the concerns put forward by Sturgeon.