MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Mountain View County’s municipal planning commission (MPC) has provided input into the ongoing review of the county’s municipal development plan (MDP).
Put in place in July 2012, the plan is used as a guideline for land use across the municipality. It is being updated, a process that has included open houses and input from various stakeholders, including commissions and boards.
The MPC is the county’s approving authority, made up of county councillors and appointed members of the public at large.
As part of the review, stakeholders are being asked to comment on specific parts of the plan relating to land use.
• Growth centres are located around area towns and the Village of Cremona. They are higher density residential (up to 48 lots from a quarter section), commercial and industrial land uses may be allowed.
Highway economic growth nodes are located at highway intersections. Examples are Netook Crossing east of Olds.
Administration says challenges identified with the current growth centres include that they may limit future growth opportunities for the county’s inter-municipal partners within the towns and village, and that the county needs to balance economic growth that will help diversify the tax base with the preservation of agricultural lands.
The county is proposing to remove growth centres around towns and the village with the exception of those areas with existing higher density residential developments within approved area structure plans, and review the location of the economic growth nodes.
At a recent meeting, MPC members held a discussion of the matter, with discussion points including: “need tax base but at what cost? Seeking a balance of both business park and agriculture”, “need growth around towns and somewhere”, “growth node development is driven by developers, MDP sets strategic location”, “where is agriculture valued? Certain areas in the county more valuable than others?”
Following discussion, the MDP agreed to a general statement reading: “Growth centres may have influenced landowners’ interest in land and removal of growth centres could affect value of land for landowners.”
• The MDP sets out a special policy area east of the Town of Olds along Highway 27 and to the east of the intersection between Highway 27 and Highway 2.
Administration says challenges identified with the area include “higher density residential development is better located in the Town of Olds”, “current policy restrictions limit potential developers from moving forward with commercial and industrial developments unless the area structure plan is reviewed.”
The proposed direction is to review the special policy area and insert appropriate policies to guide commercial and industrial development in the area and remove high-density residential development.
Discussion points included: “holding pattern for development in area as a result of current policy. Proposing policy to encourage commercial and industrial development without timing constraint of ASP review”, “county has the ability to change policy from time to time”, “boundaries to be reviewed as part of MDP policy consideration if ASP is removed.”
The general statement reads: “Policy that speeds up the process for developers to apply for new development is a benefit to the county. Need to identify and provide for strategic areas in the county to allow for business parks.”
• Environmental and concentrated confined feeding operation limitations on subdivision potential.
Administration says challenges identified include: “the mapped environmentally significant areas (ESAs) raise concern that their development potential should be equal to those with no ESAs”, “the level of restriction depends on the level of the ESA. Not all restrictions are the same”, “being too prescriptive with protection measures has not been any more successful that working with willing landowners to protect ESAs.”
Discussion points included: “Landowners have determined the greatest value for their land”, “difficult to address undeveloped parcels, such as restricting any development in an ESA 1”, “cost to update ESA mapping could be too great” and “landowners can be good protectors of the land.”
The general statement reads: “Maintain current process and consider more recent data that is available.”
• Concentrated confined feeding operations (CFOs).
Administration says challenges identified include: “The map where areas of concentrated CFOs are located changes over time as new CFOs are applied for, existing CFOs expand or CFOs cease to operate” and “landowners have raised concerns that the provincial requirements should be used and the county should not be more restrictive.”
Discussion points include: “CFOs will decrease if not protected”, “must be mindful of small minority that has the ear of people and not ignore satisfied majority”, “people need to accept the rural way of life when living in the county”, and “do we need to provide more areas in the county that are CFO friendly or allow NRCB to decide?”
During the Dec. 19 commission meeting, members passed a motion ratifying the responses and discussion points, which will now be forwarded to the MDP review steering committee.