Villeneuve plan goes to public hearing

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The community of Villeneuve took another step toward a new plan for the tiny hamlet last month, but a nagging issue still remains.

County councillors brought the Villeneuve area structure plan to a public hearing on Oct. 25 as the final step toward finalizing a plan.

Villeneuve has been through two failed area structure plans that were either completely redrafted or voted down by council, before this latest attempt was brought to the community.

This attempt has been through several open houses before the formal process started last week.

The one issue that continues to dominate the discussion is the proposed density of the hamlet after construction. In its current form the plan calls for 46-foot lots with a maximum of 600 homes in a quarter section.

Community member Colleen Soetaert told council at the hearing that is too much for the community and that the community doesn’t want to lose its rural feel.

“What we have is a place where community really matters,” she said. “We must keep with the vision of what Villeneuve already is.”

Soetaert said the community is willing to accept the reality that the community will not be the same forever, but there was a limit to the amount of change they would accept.

“We concede that our hamlet will change,” she said. “We will grow even though many would rather we didn’t.”

The man hoping to spur that change, Landrex Developments president Larry Andrews, was also on hand. He argued the community needed to allow smaller lots.

“The economic reality is such that if we are going to be economically competitive we need that density,” he said. “The density issue and the size issue is critical to us and they should be critical to anyone else who has land inside that area structure plan.”

Andrews also emphasized the company’s successful developments in other communities and the contributions they make there. He listed some of the firm’s many contributions including to the water play centre in Servus Credit Union Place, the University of Alberta, local baseball teams and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the area.

He also promised a donation of $1,000 for every lot developed in Villeneuve to the community’s aging in place centre.

To assuage concerns about the quality of homes built, Andrews also said his company would be willing to develop architectural guidelines and register them on the title of each property they developed.

“We have a high sense of connectivity back to the community,” he said.

Councillor for the area Ken McGillis said ultimately the county should be able to resolve these outstanding issues and council will have to decide how to bridge the gap between the two ideas.

“I think that at some stage council will have to make a decision whether it is a consensus decision with all of the stakeholders or an arbitrary one made by council,” he said.

McGillis said he didn’t expect a quick vote on the proposed plan.

“Before our council makes a decision there is going to be some other information that comes to council,” he said.

Before council passed the final reading of the proposed plan it would also have to go to the Capital Region Board for a review.

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