The conversation continues over the proposed rezoning of a parcel of land in the Trinity Crossing at Terrace Heights development.
Earlier this month, Lacombe City council voted unanimously in favour of giving second reading to the proposed rezoning.
While the public hearing at the meeting, held earlier this month, was to deal with the rezoning specifically, many of those who spoke at it expressed opposition to the development as well.
Among the concerns cited by residents were too much high density in the area already and other areas, such as downtown Lacombe, would be much better suited for high-density residential developments.
Of course, the obvious answer to why there are no high density developments happening in downtown Lacombe is that downtown is lacking vacant lots in which to build them.
Jennifer Kirchner, planner for the City of Lacombe, said that Lacombe’s downtown is quite old and at the time most of it was developed, high-density developments were not thought of because they were not needed and no one had the foresight to think they might be necessary sometime in the future.
“I’m sure that people who live downtown would have the same argument of ‘Why isn’t it in the new areas?’” said Kirchner.
Kirchner said that when infill does happen downtown, it is traditionally four-plexes, row houses and other multifamily units that are built.
She added there may not be high-density apartment complexes downtown but the size of the lots in that area, which were zoned decades ago, are not suitable for those types of development.
However, the City of Lacombe is already taking steps towards remedying the lack of density downtown.
Kirchner said the City recently completed its Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan (DARP) which contains a lot of properties that have been re-zoned for higher density should they be developed in the future.
The reason higher density developments appear to be happening in the newer areas of Lacombe is because that’s where there is room to build developments of any density, said Kirchner.
“It’s something that you will see in any area where a new quarter-section is developed,” said Kirchner.
“That’s when you are going to see maybe more diversity than you are used to because of its newer areas.”
Several of the residents who attended the public hearing were also somewhat confused about why Trinity Crossing, a new project, was being treated as part of the Terrace Heights development.
Kirchner said that the reason for this is because Trinity Crossing actually is part of the Terrace Heights development, even though it may not look like it.
Kirchner said that when development for Terrace Heights began, the area for Trinity Crossing was earmarked for future development at the same time.
Technically, this makes Trinity Crossing a different phase of the Terrace Heights development rather than a different project entirely, added Kirchner.
“Usually, you would see it as phasing,” said Kirchner. “In this case the property owners decided to do two different sub-developments.”
At this point, it is unlikely that changes to the development will be made to address the public’s concerns.
Kirchner said the outline plan for the proposed development has already been approved by council meaning any changes to the development would have to be made by the developer.
City council still has the ability to stop the development from going ahead at all, but cannot make changes to the plan themselves.
That is not to say those concerns will not be addressed though. Kirchner said that some issues can still be dealt with in ways other than making changes to the development.
For example, traffic and speeding or reckless motorists, two concerns that were brought up in the public hearing, can be dealt with by increased police presence rather than changes to the plan.
“It’s more of an enforcement issue.”