Substantial development opportunity exists in Lacombe County

Work on an area structure plan for the Medicine Lodge Hills won’t begin until after the fall 2013 municipal election

Work on an area structure plan for the Medicine Lodge Hills won’t begin until after the fall 2013 municipal election after Lacombe County councillors decided to change their philosophy to long range planning.

The county is going to slow down on creating more opportunities for development and focus more on reviewing and maintaining existing plans through its Long Range Planning Program.

Dale Freitag, manager of planning services, said the program “has been very aggressive since the adoption of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) in 2007”.

“Since then, Lacombe County has updated or developed six Intermunicipal Development Plans (IDP) with neighbouring municipalities, eight Area Structure Plans (ASP) and two recreation plans.”

“We have a lot of plans in place, a lot of land identified for residential, recreational, industrial and commercial use,” Freitag said. The intent of the MDP, he added, was “to provide a variety of development opportunities”.

In considering a change in philosophy which puts “more emphasis on updating existing plans” and limits “the initiation of new plans … to no more than one a year”, he said “as more plans are created more resources are needed to keep them up-to-date”.

During a council committee of the whole planning workshop in October, Freitag said they talked about not only about staff resources but also about time of councillors to participate in various public meetings needed to create plans.

The Medicine Lodge Hills plan is scheduled for work in 2013 under the three year planning program presented by Freitag. It would be completed in 2014.

Councillor Dana Kreil suggested work not start on the plan until after the fall election “to give staff a year to catch up”.

“We have an election this year and it might be tough to finish when we don’t know what council will look like,” she said.

Freitag agreed it can be left until after the October election. Two other plans for 2013 are more critical, noted County Commissioner Terry Hager. The Lacombe County/Lacombe City Intermunicipal Development Plan Review and Town of Blackfalds/ Lacombe County Intermunicipal Development Plan are both plans jointly approved by councils of both municipalities.

“I think we’ve got a lot in the land bank at this time,” said Councillor Rod McDermand. “I think we have gone far enough down the road.”

Freitag answered, “the primary areas of development opportunity have been or are in process now.”

In his written report to council, Freitag wrote that based on the aggressive schedule of the past, “Lacombe County has approximately 25,720 acres identified for potential residential development, 950 acres identified for potential commercial development, 2,558 acres identified for potential industrial development, 3,846 acres identified for either potential commercial or industrial development and 1,642 acres identified for potential recreational development. In addition, approximately 21 per cent of Lacombe County is covered by either an ASP or IDP.

“There are also a significant number of developments either approved or being proposed as a result of these plans. Currently there are approximately 1,221 residential lots being proposed covering 1,912 acres, approximately 1,660 recreational lots covering 606 acres and 75 industrial and commercial lots covering 489 acres.

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