BY KALISHA MENDONSA
A proposed development near Burbank in Lacombe County is causing a bit of a stir among residents nearby.
The main issue – according to Burbank Community Association member Joanne Ward – is an opposition to the re-zoning of the lots that would occur – changing the lots from R-CR (country residential) to R-CE (country residential estates.)
Currently, most residential lots in the area are between 3.5 – 5 acres, as was recommended when the original community was developed. The lot sizes of the proposed development – Sandhill Estates – are now sized between 1.25 acres and 2.25 acres.
The change in recommended lot size is a reflection of the updated Area Structure Plans, as well as the current Municipal Development Plan (MDP).
Dale Freitag, manager of planning services with Lacombe County, said this is to encourage developers to make more efficient use of the available land under the direction of Lacombe County council.
“The most common type of development in this area pre-2007 was for country residential lots, which historically were between 2.5 to four acres.
“When the MDP was adopted in 2007, council wanted to allow for higher density development in these kinds of developments, to be less land-consumptive and more efficient with land use,” Freitag explained.
He added that now, when area development structure plans are being developed, the higher density models are typically what are being used.
When developers purchased the available land and brought forth the Sandhill Estate Outline Plan in 2016, they decided to design the area using lot sizes of 1.5-2.25 acres. This would mean re-zoning to allow for the proposed 14-lot country residential development.
Ward spoke on behalf of the current residents and said they are opposed to re-zoning the area, as it goes against the original Burbank Local Plan that was designed in 1989.
However, this document is not a statutory document, whereas the MDP is and so the MDP guidelines would overtake the Burbank Local Plan recommendations.
“Basically, this is a letter on behalf of the whole community. We met first with the developer, and then had a second meeting of just Burbank residents. After that, a sub-committee was formed to create a letter and petition against this re-zoning,” Ward said.
“We’re opposing the 1.5 acres to 3.5 acres the developer is planning to use. We, the people of the community, bought into a country lifestyle, and most of us are fairly long-term residents of the area. We want to protect the lifestyle we have here, and are concerned about the economic and environmental impacts of this proposed development.”
In a letter sent to Lacombe County council from the Burbank residents, it is stated that the residents, “Request the status quo for the area remains in place to calm the concerns of current landowners,” who cited concerns of potential environmental impact, preservation of trees and topography, a wildlife corridor as well as traffic concerns.
Following a community consultation with current residents, consultants addressed each of these concerns – as well as stormwater maintenance, potential traffic issues, septic concerns and more – and have filed a number of reports that are consistent with County guidelines to address the issues citizens laid before them.
All of these documents are available at the Lacombe County web site.
County council has now heard from the developers as well as community members, and will discuss the potential development in meetings to come.