Lacombe County council hopes to make a final decision on May 14 concerning the highly controversial Highway 2A Urban Corridor Area Structure Plan, which has been ongoing for several years.
The county has spent much time, effort and money dealing with this plan and mediating among the Town of Lacombe, the Town of Blackfalds and area residents.
There have been many different opinions and ideas expressed considering future development and the impact on this area, as well as environmental issues involving Lacombe Lake.
Lacombe County has considered demands from the Town of Lacombe that include this area being designed for future urban expansion.
It has been confirmed through various facts and figures that it could take from 25 to 50 years before there is an actual need for our area to become urbanized. The Town of Blackfalds has said its needs are being met for urban expansion for the next 30 years with this plan and it has proceeded with annexation to meet these needs.
Thirty-seven years ago, we purchased our land south of Lacombe, immediately south of the research station, and at that time it was a wind-blown sandy hill with some bush and very few trees. Over these many years our family has planted hundreds of trees between our two family dwellings.
Approximately 12 years ago, the land bordering our property to the west was developed into Lacombe Lake Estates and the landscape once again changed.
Driving or walking through this area now, we see evidence of families working hard to produce and maintain homes and yards that beautify and enhance our countryside.
Due to our location and surroundings, farming has become less feasible for us.
We thought it logical that we would be able to receive approval to develop our land in a similar manner as Lacombe Lake estates. We envisioned our development continuing the flow of country residential from east of the lake to Hwy 2A.
For several years now we have been told this would be impossible until a new area structure plan is approved.
Three years ago, we were led to believe the Town of Lacombe needed our land immediately, but since that time it has been confirmed it will be many, many years into the future before there is an actual need for urbanizing this area.
Lacombe County’s steering committee is now trying to accommodate urban transitional development (allowing for the subdivision of larger residential lots that do not prejudice the further development of the lands at an urban density) by approving 12-acre (plus) lots in our area.
Twelve-acre lots could potentially present many problems.
Acreages this size would require an investment in machinery and equipment needed to maintain the land. Also, the owner would need a plan in place to utilize the 12 acres in an economical and environmentally friendly manner.
Land owners and council planners have gone back and forth many times over lot sizes; both trying to compromise so we can get on with this plan and with our future. However, being realistic and logical, a smaller lot size (approximately six acres) seems more feasible for a family to be able to purchase and maintain financially.
In the distant future, when urban services become available, six-acre lots should not jeopardize long-term urban expansion and this would be a more responsible use of this land for the next 30-plus years.
As landowners waiting many years for an agreement, we implore the Lacombe County to make a final decision that will accommodate actual needs and not wants of the Town of Lacombe.
It is obvious that land owners need approval so development will be done in a responsible, expedient manner in this environmentally sensitive area with consideration for all involved.