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Picture Butte holds public hearing for Bylaw No. 942-24

Posted on March 21, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Sunny South News

During the February 26, 2024 Town of Picture Butte Council meeting, a public hearing was held regarding Bylaw No. 942-24 Butte Landing Area Structure Plan (ASP) and Bylaw No. 943-24 Land Use Bylaw Amendments – which proposed the redesignation of select land from Urban Reserve to Residential Multi-Unit.

The bylaws passed first reading on Feb. 12, 2024.

Kattie Schlamp, Planner with the Oldman River Regional Services Commission(ORRSC), and town administration, outlined the features of the Landing Area Structure Plan.

“The area structure plan is to provide a vision for the orderly and economic development of the land,” said Schlamp. “Stantec and Oak Point Developments have consulted with the Town in order to get to a place that was agreeable with the Town and is in compliance with your municipal development plan, your intermediate municipal development plan, the SSRP, and any planning, transportation and infrastructure needs. The proposal is to create a number of multi-unit dwellings in order to provide diversifed housing within Picture Butte.  Your MDP, specifically policy 7.1 0.3 does identify a need to diversify housing within the town, so this would assist in reaching that goal.”

Schlamp told Council that if they provided second and third reading for the plan, it would allow the  developer to continue towards subdivision of the development, and that this is working in tandem with that is the Bylaw 943 -24, which is the Land Use Redesignation. Generally by accepting the ASP, Schlamp said, it indicates acceptance of the re-designation as well. Schlamp said, ORRSC did send out notice to adjacent landowners or all relevant utility agencies, and received feedback. There were no concerns with the ASP itself, nor the re-designation, Schlamp said, but said they need to examine the transportation impact assessment further, and added the developer is working with Alberta Transportation to get that approval, which is required because it is within the boundaries of two highways. 

In the meantime, Schlamp told Council, if they are comfortable with the use of the lands and moving forward, they can do so, but they only really need Alberta Transportation’s blessing on the transportation impact assessment on the subdivision and development stage. However, Schlamp said, things can continue to progress while they’re working with Alberta Transportation on that aspect. Lethbridge County, Schlamp said, only required clerical and clarification type edits, but had no major concerns. Alberta Health Services (AHS), Schlamp said, did provide two letters, one of which referred to a mine north of the development site which closed in 1935. Schlamp said that although there is no record as to whether the mine is capped, it has been abandoned for almost 100 years, so ORRSC believes it would have been. AHS’s comments about the safe, healthy environments design perspective can also be implemented in that subdivision and development stage, as can the utility right of way, Schlamp said. Besides that, Schlamp said, no other agencies had any concerns. 

In terms of resident feedback Schlamp noted there was a concern for the development, the intensity of the development, and perhaps the ownership model. 

“The ASP does not go so far as to define how the property will be subdivided or not and how it will be owned, and it’s outside of Council’s control to decide what kind of ownership model it should be and whether or not those should be rental units. That’s really up to the market to decide if that could be supported.”

Schlamp added, “the comments, though are absolutely valid and we do want to hear from our residents.”

Then, Mayor Cathy Moore opened the public hearing and invited anyone in-person or on Zoom to speak in favour of the bylaws.

First, Christina Lombardo, a consultant who was joined by one of the development owners, Josh Barr, spoke on behalf of Oak Point Developments. Lombardo explained that the development included 10.22 acres of land located in the south end of town, found by three a street or highway 8 43 to the west, residential lands to the north and east, and the cemetery forming part of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation Church to the seventh. This ASP, Lombardo said, is an update to the previously approved subdivision from 1980, as servicing, servicing deficiencies were found in that approved layout. The direction of the development has had to shift and it has been adjusted through this ASP, Lombardo said, and due to this, the parcels were all consolidated back into one with the exception of an existing residence located in the northwest corner that has remained on its own. 

“Through this ASP, a more comprehensive and consolidated approach has been taken to consider the future residential development based on current market factors,” said Lombardo. “Due to a growing demand for residential accommodation, the increase in costs within the real estate market and employers requiring more skilled labourers in the region, this ASP provides the framework required to consider planning transportation, infrastructure, and servicing in this area. Through this application, we are working to create a sufficient supply of planned residential land that can accommodate the projected increase in population while supporting a healthy competitive residential land market that attracts investment and employment opportunities to contribute to accomplish these goals. This plan outlines the general land use and servicing framework, along with a set of policies to guide future development through an information implementation plan Until the full subject.”

Lombardo stated that the subject lines are located entirely within the inter municipal developed plan area or IDP, and also showed a policy document approved by Council in 2018 that identifies areas of mutual interest within the town and the county,  and establishes policies and processes of sharing information and referral. The IDP, Lombardo said, identifies the subject lands for residential development that should be reviewed by council through an area structure plan, and the IDP also notes future commercial uses to the north of subject lands, and thus this ASP has considered the transition to future commercial uses and existing residential uses to the west in alignment with the goals of the IDP. Additionally, Lombardo said, the density proposed will contribute to the success of the commercial district by retaining more people in the area that can support those businesses and support the long term interest of the Town. 

“Within the town’s Municipal Development Plan or MDPA listed within Section 4.2 is that in the future, a lack of multi-unit accommodation will affect the ability of the town to accommodate a diverse labor force and a variety of age groups,” said Lombardo noting that Picture Butte currently primarily, “consists of single-family dwellings, which do not provide a sufficient variation in purchase for rental pricing, maintenance requirements, and may not be suitable to allow for the flexibility to engage in population development. Enabled by this ASP, this development will contribute to the desired diversity of housing types and increase tax revenues over time.”

That said, Lombardo explained that Stantec and Oak Point Developments are seeking Council support to re-designate the area from Urban Reserve to Residential Multi-Unit, or R5. 

“This land use is needed to establish a unique neighbourhood within the town of contribute that can accommodate much needed permanent and temporary housing options through a fully serviced community,” said Lombardo. “This community has been designed to connect with the vibrant natural environment and bring community members together while integrating high quality private spaces with public, recreational outdoor areas. This focuses on achieving a neighbourhood that balances the overall mix of residential uses in the town to create a multi-generational community and can accommodate the needs of a variety of residents, including singles, young families and seniors. It also provides housing that integrates open space to achieve safe, logical connections within the site and where possible to the adjacent neighbourhoods. Residential lands within the ASP provide the opportunity to accommodate a multi-unit residential development that works to achieve the targeted density that has been identified by the town.”

In terms of circulation, Lombardo said, letters were sent to relevant government agencies and adjacent landowners and in addition there needing to be a detailed development permit, there was also concerns about the southeast corner of the plan area, specifically the cemetery.

Lombardo also spoke about how through a development permit, various things can be looked at including landscaping and fencing. In terms of servicing, Lombardo said, all engineering servicing reports have been completed to ensure a viable development in this location can occur, and will continue to be reviewed by administration and endorse throughout the, uh, variety of applications. The traffic impact assessment, Lombardo said, was calculated using a traffic model that was given from Alberta Transportation using a 20 year population projection associated with the projected growth and has not hit any thresholds for the expansion of the road or an upgrade of the intersection. After reviewing the report, Lombardo said, Alberta Transportation had no concerns.

“We believe that the application that has since been submitted specifically with that TIA will come back great and won’t have any concerns there,” said Lombardo. “This application is aligned with the IDP and the MDP and maintains the direction of the approved policies that look to make Picture Butte landing a vibrant and exciting community within Picture Butte.”

Josh Barr then spoke in support of the bylaw, saying that he can really appreciate what the town has to offer and he is excited to invest into the town. That said, Barr decided to address concerns that were raised, emphasizing that he wants to help the community overall.

There were also written submissions in favour of the bylaws, but Council moved on to investigating if anyone was opposed to the bylaws. 

A representative of a local church first spoke, saying that although a lot of their questions had been answered, they do not believe that the traffic study has kept the traffic of the church in mind and is concerned about the volume of traffic that this will cause. Another neighbour then spoke about how they have seen a lot of rental neighbourhoods that look very bad, and they were also concerned about the developers that are involved now selling to other owner who might have different ideas of how to run it, so they thought it very important would be that there would be the proper architecture controls and maintenance standards that are going to be part of this whole ASP and development plan. 

Following that question, the public hearing was closed and a motion was made to grant permission for second reading of Bylaw Number 942-24 and actual motion was made for second reading of Bylaw Number 942- 24. The motions were both carried. A motion was then made to grant permission for third reading of Bylaw Number 942-24 and actual motion was made for third reading of Bylaw Number 942- 24. The motions were both carried.

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