A new residential subdivision in the Town of Stettler got one step closer to reality as town council passed second reading of a rezoning application.
The public hearing and vote were held at the April 6 regular council meeting.
After Mayor Sean Nolls called the public hearing to order, Director of Planning and Development Leann Graham described the application to rezone lot 2, block 1, plan 1923086 located at 4501 57 Street from “P: Public Use” to “R2: Residential General” in order to make development of a subdivision possible.
It was stated at a previous council meeting this parcel of land is known in Stettler as Rotary Campground, and lies immediately west of the Stettler Agriculture Society grounds.
“The applicant (Tracy Peters) has requested the rezoning to accommodate the development of a 20 +/- lot residential subdivision including multifamily housing (duplex) as well as single family housing,” stated Graham in her presentation, who also noted the rezoning and subdivision applications are being processed by the town at the same time.
“The proposed rezoning is in accordance with the Town of Stettler Municipal Development Plan (Bylaw 2041-13) which was adopted in 2013 and identifies this land as future residential.”
Graham stated she received three letters which appeared to all be opposed to the application.
The first, from neighbourhood resident Ryan Bolin, included concerns about flooding.
“I’m concerned about the drainage issues that will arise from taking out a large green space that acts as a buffer for flooding when the Red Willow Creek is at capacity,” stated Bolin’s letter.
“Having lived in our current residence since 2007, I have a lot of evidence of prior flooding. Removing green space that is able to soak up moisture and replacing it with asphalt and houses will surely create issues for all residences in the area.
“Has a stormwater management report been completed in regards to this subdivision application?”
Bolin also stated he didn’t see any need for more residential lots in Stettler right now and was also concerned the effect this proposed subdivision would have on the agriculture society.
The second opposition letter came from Melissa Huraj, who stated she was a resident of 54 Street. “…I am concerned about the following,” stated Huraj’s letter, which stated, “Sheltered green spaces are hard to come by in Stettler.
“The lot has potential to be enhanced to further beautify this area of town, in a park-like setting.
“The trees are not only beautiful, but as you know this area is low-lying and therefore the water table is high…can it be anticipated that water/flooding won’t be more of future issue once all the trees are destroyed?
“If the development goes ahead, how will this impact the agriculture society?”
Huraj also stated there were other residential options in Stettler and construction would have a negative effect on the neighbourhood.
The third opposition letter came from the Stettler Agriculture Society, which noted removing trees on the site would reduce the sound barrier.
The society stated they were concerned about conflict with neighbours, and stated the society was already having conflict with some neighbours who apparently phone the police to complain about events going on at the grounds.
The society suggested, if the subdivision goes ahead, that a berm be built to block sound.
Graham pointed out some of the concerns, such as water management, aren’t part of the rezoning process and would be addressed when subdivision and development occurs.
Coun. Gord Lawlor asked if home buyers can be reminded an agriculture society is in the neighbourhood.
Graham stated the town has no control over purchasing agreements.
Coun. Scott Pfeiffer asked what could be done about noise concerns.
Peters, who was at the public hearing, stated she spoke to Bolin directly about a berm and other details and he seemed reasonable and open to discussion.
Peters noted she also spoke to the Agriculture Society and those discussions also seemed promising and positive.
Coun. Malcolm Fischer asked about the layout of the subdivision, and Peters answered the development would open onto 46th Ave. with a berm and backyards against the agriculture society lands.
Peters pointed out many of the trees on site are poplars and are near the end of their life span, and while she’d also like to keep as many as possible, that may not be an option.
She noted planting new trees is a possibility.
Coun. Cheryl Barros stated she doesn’t have strong memories of many people using that area as a park.
The public hearing closed, followed by councillors unanimously approving second reading of the rezoning. The rezoning and subdivision will return to a future meeting.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter