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More homes for Oakmont?

A small, new housing development proposed for the Oakmont neighbourhood has raised some big traffic concerns for local residents.

A small, new housing development proposed for the Oakmont neighbourhood has raised some big traffic concerns for local residents.

About 30 people went to the Sarasota Homes building in the Campbell Business Park Wednesday night for an open house on the company's proposed new neighbourhood at 100 Orchard. The project, proposed by Sarasota, would see about 32 single-family homes on the three-hectare plot located west of Osprey Point and half a kilometre east of the old Hole's Greenhouse site.

The site is currently zoned urban reserve, has one private home on it, and is not owned by the Hole family. Sarasota hopes to have the city rezone it as low-density residential for its project.

The neighbourhood, if approved by council, would feature 14-metre wide lots with 12-metre wide homes on them, said project consultant Chuck McNutt. "They're not including anything smaller, and they're not looking at any duplexes."

If the rezoning is approved, he said, site work could start as early as next spring.

The homes would cost about $650,000 each, said Sarasota spokesperson Michelle Fogolin, and would look similar to those in the Brickyard region of Erin Ridge (two storeys, garage out front). The homes would be arranged in a cul-de-sac exiting onto Orchard Court.

That got some residents worried about traffic flows. A typical home produces 10 car trips a day, said Larry Andrews, owner of another builder, Landrex Developers Inc., that plans to put about 70 homes on the property next door in the near future. All the cars produced by those homes would have to go down Orchard Court. "That's a thousand trips a day," he said. "When you're looking at stacking 1,000 cars on Orchard Court, it's a daunting, daunting task."

The south end of St. Albert Trail sees about 43,000 car trips a day in comparison, according to a 2008 city traffic count.

Traffic jam?

Resident Charles Gushaty echoed Andrews's concerns. "It seems like you're piece-mealing one piece of property now," he said. Future development on the Landrex site and the old Hole's site further west would both affect traffic flows in this region, yet this plan did not appear to account for them. "I'd like to see a little more of a detailed plan before this goes ahead."

Orchard Court is already a narrow road when cars are parked on it, said resident John McCotter. "You can barely get a pickup through," he said. "How do you expect to get all the equipment in to service this new development?"

This proposal is in line with the overall structure plan for Oakmont that was drawn up a decade ago, McNutt said, one that included a traffic impact study.

"This is not a surprise to anyone in the City of St. Albert."

Still, Sarasota would do a new traffic study if asked. Crews may have to ask for a temporary street parking ban to get their equipment on site, he added.

The new development would also create a new stormwater outfall to the Sturgeon River, noted Vaughn Shears, engineering manager for the project. The pipe would be roughly 60 centimetres wide and would likely have a sand and grit interceptor in it. It would also be subject to approval from Alberta Environment.

Coun. Malcolm Parker, who attended the open house, said a new traffic assessment would probably be a good idea. It's an open question as to whether the city needs more single-family homes, he said, but he didn't see many problems with this development since it's only 32 homes.

The proposed project should reach council sometime this fall, Fogolin said.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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