Planners were sent back to the drawing board after town councillors rejected an outline plan for the Crestview subdivision south of Pierview because of significant opposition from residents.
The loss of a mature tree stand along the southern boundary of the Pierview neighbourhood was a major bone of contention when almost 50 people packed council chambers Monday night for a public hearing on the proposal.
Councillors directed the developer to go back and reconfigure their concept plan so the tree stand could be retained as municipal reserve. They acknowledged there would likely have to be a reduction in municipal reserve elsewhere in the plan area.
Many of the audience had already signed a petition against the proposed development south of them and written letters of opposition as well.
A lane runs along the south boundary of the Pierview subdivision and the plan was to also make it available for lots planned in the northwest corner of the Crestview subdivision.
Another concern of residents was creating R1A (Medium Lot Residential) and R5 (Narrow Lot General Residential) lots abutting their bigger lots.
Several pointed to comments in Lamont Land’s own concept plan where a guiding principle stated “significant healthy tree stands will be retained where possible and incorporated into the Crestview neighbourhood as part of the open space system”.
Part of the company’s vision for the subdivision is “a place where nature is celebrated”.
Heather Donald was the first speaker to voice opposition during the public hearing. She noted 16 homes in Pierview back onto what the planners propose to become medium density lots. Noting the number of people who had signed a petition and the number in the audience, she said, “People care vehemently about this. It’s a place we can come home to that is restful in a time when pressures are growing. A place we can come home, discharge, just relax.”
Describing herself as not a tree-hugger, she said “I do care about what we’ve been given as a gift in natural resources. Anybody can mow down trees to build houses, plant seedlings. But you can never replace what you have in a natural tree stand. The birds will be gone. Only 20 or 30 years down the road will we get it back.” She added there’s a large variety of trees in that stand and a wide variety of wildlife. “You can’t replace what was given to us as a gift. This is natural, we should maintain it.”
Donald encouraged councillors to find “a new paradigm rather than ripping everything up and starting fresh”. She concluded her presentation by playing a CD of the sounds of chirping birds from the area.
Wayne Saastad raised issues particular to his property and boarding kennel and the “inadequate separation” from his property to the back yards of proposed lots. He also encouraged the town to not allow the developers to clear the entire quarter as was done at Beacon Hill which resulted in an environmental mess.
Stating the town is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on third party consultants hired by the planning department, Saastad also suggested eliminating the area structure plan process and just having developers submit their plans since what’s happening now is the area structure plans are being amended to suit the developer’s plans anyway.
James Clarke was concerned about the type of housing behind his residence. “All I can see is they’re going to bring in low income housing rather than spruce up our property. I’ll have four people looking in my back yard now.”
Later in the meeting Wade Englesby added the houses would likely be two storey structures so they’d be looking down into their back yards.
“Any removal of trees behind us is completely unacceptable,” said Matt Prete. “The problem right now is we have a win-lose situation.” It’s a win for the developer who gets to cram 62 lots into the little piece of land north of the piepline right-of-way, an area he estimated was about 13 acres. “It takes out all of the tree line and puts very narrow lots behind us. It doesn’t enhance the lifestyle of anyone either us or the people who are going to live there.”
He suggested it’s such a desirable area that 30-35 houses should be accommodated on larger lots. That would allow front attached garages and negate the need for using the back lane.
Dale Mannix reminded councillors the lake used to be called Snake Lake. Then it was changed to Sylvan. The definition of Sylvan, he added, is “pertaining to or of woods”.
“We seem to have forgotten that in the last few years. In the last five subdivisions in Sylvan Lake there are no natural stands of trees left other than where the railway was located. It’s time to get back to a Sylvan setting instead of worrying about developers making a bunch of money.”
Loretta Foley, of Urban Systems, the planning company working for Lamont, said of the 62 lots proposed in the first phase of the development, which is north of the pipeline right-of-way and borders Pierview, about 45 would access the current lane.
Councillor Laverne Asselstine asked if it was the intention for those homes to have garages accessing the lane and was told those property owners would have that ability.
Asselstine also noted the Crestview plan referenced the town’s Municipal Development Plan which states “new areas will blend with existing development” and stated that’s an issue with residents of the area. He also said while walking down the lane he saw there are no back garages and some homes are built quite close to the alley because they have front attached garages.
Stormwater drainage was another concern raised by residents. It was noted there will be less flowing into Pierview than is currently happening. Only the area north of the pipelines will flow into the stormwater system in Pierview. The rest will be directed to a stormwater system south of the pipelines.
A comment that property values wouldn’t be negatively impacted was challenged and discussed.
Mayor Susan Samson indicated after council’s decision, that because they requested the developers to make a significant change to the plan, there will have to be another bylaw drafted and another public hearing held, giving residents an opportunity to again voice their opinions.