By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Over the past year, the Town of Picture Butte has been working on a rewrite of the town’s land-use bylaw and the first reading of the bylaw was approved at a recent council meeting.
A town open house was held Oct. 15 to discuss the town’s new Sunset Park residential subdivision and town land-use bylaw revisions, which includes major land-use amendments. Council and administration were present to answer any questions.
“We just had an opportunity, as part of our subdivision development for the new subdivision, to engage some of our residents and bring some information forward,” said Larry Davidson, the town’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
At the meeting — Steve Harty, senior planner from ORRSC (Oldman River Regional Services Commission) — reviewed changes to the land-use bylaw and shared information with the 32 residents out of 40 people in attendance.
Davidson also gave a presentation in regards to the residential Sunset Park subdivision, which is located at the north west corner of Picture Butte and can be accessed off Gibbons Avenue.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for Picture Butte. It’s a new subdivision — two phases with a total of 52 lots,” Davidson noted.
Phase One, according to the CAO, is 27 lots. “So, I shared information as to the cost.”
The entire cost, Davidson said, for the two phases is anticipated to be $3.3 million. “With an average lot cost price of $64,000,” he added.
He noted some of the lots will have alley access or back onto green space and others won’t.
“We also talked about council’s incentive program. What council had authorized was if an individual put a purchase offer in before Dec. 31 of this year, they’re eligible for a $500 reduction off the purchase price. If they actually purchase the lot before Dec. 31 — they’re eligible for a further $500,” Davidson explained.
For tax incentives, Davidson added, in the first year of ownership if the property owner develops the basement by putting the foundation in and backfills the homeowner would have to pay the minimum tax on those lots, which will be $1,000.
“They have to pay that minimum tax and then the town, assuming they’ve met the conditions, we’ll reimburse them for their municipal portion of the property tax. That doesn’t include school tax or the seniors requisition for Green Acres,” he said.
In the second year of ownership, Davidson continued, as long as the home is complete with an active utility account — again homeowners will pay their taxes but the town will reimburse them for the municipal portion of their taxes, in the second year.
Davidson said he is pleased to announce the town has already sold out 45 per cent of the first phase of lots. “We’ve sold 12 lots to date,” he said.
Highway access will not happen until the second phase is complete, Davidson said. “That’s a requirement of Alberta Transportation.”
Council, according to the CAO, has directed administration that once the lots hit the 75 to 80 per cent sales mark, the town will proceed with Phase Two. “Ideally, they’re hoping Phase One is sold out in five years or less. Things are going well, so far,” said Davidson, adding the remainder of the 52 lots will be sold during Phase Two development.
Picture Butte Mayor Wendy Jones said she’s been waiting for development at Sunset Park to get going for many years.
“I think it’s an absolutely super idea the town develops it because we’ve kept this subdivision, not only affordable, but aesthetically pleasing,” said Jones.
Jones noted it’s been a lot of work for council and administration to take on the responsibility of developing the subdivision but it’s been worth it.
Davidson said the intent is to get the private sector to undertake future subdivision work and the town could then walk away from the process.
“But, in this case, it just made more sense for council to undertake this project,” he said.
Jones added the town really didn’t have a choice with this project, in regards to being responsible for the development of the subdivision.
According to the CAO, the project originally started out as a private opportunity. “The town had always owned the land but it just wasn’t moving in the direction council had hoped, so they took over the project and completed it.”
This is a really exciting opportunity and times for Picture Butte, Davidson said. “On a separate note, the town purchased the former CPR land within town some time ago. We’ve been actively working with our planners to develop a new subdivision for industrial development. I’m excited, without naming names, we’ve already conditionally sold several lots within that. We are looking forward to some significant growth within our community, as a result of those sales.”
Presently, the town office has information in regards to the Sunset Park residential subdivision.