COUNCIL DEFERS MAJOR CHANGES TO COUNTY PLAN UNTIL ONE YEAR REVIEW

COUNCIL DEFERS MAJOR CHANGES TO COUNTY PLAN UNTIL ONE YEAR REVIEW

Rocky View County Council Oct. 1 approved the County Plan but asked administration to develop a process through which changes can be proposed leading up to a critically important one-year review.

Council adopted only a few changes to the Plan, which was heavily criticized by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including residents, farmer and ranchers, after it was made public earlier this year. Instead, Council decided to wait for the one-year review to explore substantive changes to the document that will guide County direction and development.

The County Plan replaces the Municipal Development plan adopted in 1998 and overturns direction established in the formerly approved Growth Management Strategy.

The minor changes endorsed Oct. 1 include:

· The addition of four Highway Business Areas to maps;

· West Balzac identified as a full service hamlet;

· The addition of communities based on conservation design principles.

At an earlier meeting Sept. 10, Council rejected any significant changes to the County Plan when it met to review input from the more than 130 submissions put forward by residents and stakeholders in letters and during two days of public hearings.

Major amendments proposed by several councillors for further consideration were in most cases defeated by 5-4 vote.  Several councillors argued important amendments should be looked at during a one year review once Rocky View County has test driven the Plan which reduces growth to less than half what was previously approved.

The County Plan will guide development for the next 10 to 12 years and have tremendous impact on land values and quality of life. Dozens of participants at the Public Hearings had warned the Plan was shaped by the overwhelming participation of acreage owners from only two small parts of the County.

Many expressed concern that it lacked flexibility, locked in the past, would harm land values, impact taxes and would not provide for the range of housing options sought by future consumers, including seniors and young families.

One group that was deeply concerned during the hearings were ranchers and farmers, who have seen their land values chopped in approximately half in recent years.

At the Sept. 10 meeting, many people in the audience were disappointed that Council decided to reject its previously approved growth strategy of six per cent of regional population reducing it to a maximum of 2.5 per cent of regional growth. They are also concerned it directs growth to areas where people are not interested in living.

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