County council rejects proposal for housing project

Red Deer author Sigmund Brouwer has been turned down in his second attempt to develop an environmentally friendly housing project on Radar Hill, about eight km southeast of Red Deer.

Red Deer author Sigmund Brouwer has been turned down in his second attempt to develop an environmentally friendly housing project on Radar Hill, about eight km southeast of Red Deer.

Red Deer County council on Tuesday denied a pair of bylaws that would have allowed creation of The Ridge, a collection of 15 small residential holdings set up as a bare land condominium on 26.67 acres of land.

It would use a common well and sewer system and preserve 40 per cent of the site as a common area to be left undeveloped.

The proposal included restricting dogs to their owners’ properties and would also prevent residents from disturbing natural vegetation and soil beyond their own property lines.

It’s the right project in the wrong place, said Mayor Earl Kinsella.

The first bylaw was required to alter the area structure plan for that region of the county. The second bylaw would have changed the parcel’s zoning from Agricultural to Residential Conservation.

First reading of the bylaws was given in October, followed by a public hearing on Dec. 8. Thirteen county citizens addressed the application at that time, with opponents expressing concerns about potential for conflict with neighbouring farms, access to water, increased traffic on Range Road 250 and effects on local property values.

While most concerns have been addressed, the mayor and Councillors Jim Wood, David Hoar and George Gehrke opposed the plan because it takes good grazing land out of production.

Councillors Jim Lougheed and Reimar Poth supported the proposal. Councillor Penny Archibald did not take part in the discussion and vote because she had not attended the Dec. 8 public hearing.

Council would have been more likely to support the project if it were put beside another multi-lot subdivision or community, said Kinsella.

“It’s all good grazing land. If you start allowing multi-lot housing there, you’re going to lose that land,” he said.

“It’s been recognized . . . that we have to reduce impact on agriculture as much as possible. If you’re going to have a multi-lot subdivision, try to locate it close to hamlets and urban centres . . . because development is coming in that area anyways.”

While Brouwer did not attend the meeting, he had a court reporter record the proceedings.

Brouwer told the Advocate later in the day that he believes in the viability of zero-lot homes on land that has been deemed non-viable for agriculture.

“My sense is that council sees real merit in this, too,” Brouwer said.

“I also believe it is important to respect the process, and I hope to have a chance to explore with council how something like (this) fits in a way that is a win situation for everyone.”

Brouwer made his first application in January. County bylaws require a six-month waiting period before he can make a new application.

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