At County Council
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 07:00 pm
Municipal Development Plan goes to public hearing
County councillors will have their ears open next month as they hold a public hearing on their first new municipal development plan in decades.
County council voted unanimously in favour of first reading for the county’s new municipal development plan (MDP) on Feb. 12. The 179-page document, if approved, will guide development in the county for the next 30 years.
The county’s current MDP dates back to 1996 and has missed out on 17 years of legal, population and economic changes.
This new plan has been three years in the works, said planning and development manager Collin Steffes, presenting it to council, and has involved extensive consultation. “It has been a very daunting task.”
The draft plan proposes to divide the county into 10 zones or “neighbourhoods” based on social, cultural, geographic and economic features, each of which would have different development goals.
This plan isn’t meant to create divisions, said county commissioner Peter Tarnawsky, but to acknowledge the unique communities that have already formed in Sturgeon County.
Coun. Tom Flynn voiced concern about local and regional reaction to this plan and its chances of getting approval from the Capital Region Board. “The community needs to recognize that this is just the start of the process.”
Mayor Don Rigney said he was glad to see the excitement this plan had created, but was concerned about the amount of planning the county was doing. “I want to make sure it gives our citizens as much latitude” as possible, he said, as that would encourage innovation.
The public hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the county office this March 12.
Rink rules ahead
County council plans to bring in rules for sports courts in light of last year’s dispute over an ex-Oiler’s hockey rink.
Council voted unanimously in favour of third reading to a long list of changes to its land use bylaw on Feb. 12.
Council approved about 60 changes to the bylaw, most of which were for clarity and consistency’s sake. The law now has definitions for “car wash,” “market garden” and “height,” for example, and has revised rules for bed and breakfast homes and guest ranches.
One item removed from the list of changes dealt with sport courts and hockey arenas. At the advice of administration, council voted not to change the definition of “accessory, use” to “accessory, building or use,” which would include “garages, sheds, flagpoles, swimming pools, hockey rinks, tennis courts, satellite dishes, wind turbines and solar panel arrays.”
Council asked administrators to change the rules for accessory buildings last year after Riverstone Pointe residents complained about a large outdoor hockey rink built by former Edmonton Oilers player Fernando Pisani, Flynn said in an interview.
“The intent was to make a discretionary use out of it,” he said, which means the construction of such rinks would require public notification and review by the county’s municipal planning commission. Backyard rinks are not currently regulated under the county’s land use bylaw.
This was a complex legal issue, Steffes told council, and staffers planned to bring this revision back as a stand-alone amendment sometime in the future.
Flynn, whose division includes Riverstone Pointe, said he had not heard anything about Pisani’s rink since it went before the municipal planning commission last summer.
“He (Pisani) did a pretty good job of making it as good as he can for his neighbours,” he noted, and has surrounded the rink with many trees for screening. “If it’s for small kids and they’re playing out there at supper-time … not disturbing the community, it’s not going to be a problem.”
Resident Doreen Cole, who had previously criticized the rink, declined to comment on the issue.