Contested proposal back on the table

Opponents and supporters of a controversial country residential development filled Red Deer County Council chambers Tuesday to air their views.

Opponents and supporters of a controversial country residential development filled Red Deer County Council chambers Tuesday to air their views.

This is the second time in a year developer Sigmund Brouwer has pitched his proposal to create a subdivision on a scenic ridge about 13 km southeast of Red Deer. County council rejected a similar proposal in January and a number of those opposed to the project were critical they had to made their cases against the project once again.

The two-hour public hearing that drew about 60 people focused on a proposal to adopt an area structure plan for the development and to rezone nearly 27 acres of agricultural land to a residential conservation district. No decision was made Tuesday. The application will come back to council Dec. 22.

Adjacent landowner Phillip Reay expressed irritation he had to return so soon to oppose the project and may have to come back again in a few months if the project is turned down and revived again. Under county rules, a developer must wait six months after an application is turned down to reapply. Reay said if the county approves this project in an area teeming with wildlife it will be under intense pressure to approve other high-density projects.

Freezing all development is not possible, he conceded. “But we can make it a low-density area and still have a lot of wildlife in the area.”

Lynda Purdie, who owns Rolyn Hills B&B and Guest Ranch, said there are very few farms making a living solely off the land and the county should not put obstacles in their way.

Allowing residential development in the area and paving the main access road will make it unsafe for horses and cattle, which lose their footing on pavement. The amount of traffic will also be boosted.

Colin Plamondon was concerned the development could affect local water sources and interfere with runoff from the ridge that is vital for maintaining local supplies. He questioned whether creating a gated subdivision in the area supports the “existing ambience of our community.”

In a presentation to council, Brouwer pitched the merits of his project, which would embrace the latest green technologies. Architectural controls would be in place to accommodate geo-thermal heating, solar panels, grey water recycling and rain water harvesting.

The Ridge subdivision could also feature net-zero homes, which are designed to produce as much power as they use.

Neighbours’ fears that loose dogs could interfere with livestock or that ATV riders would trespass on neighbouring properties will be controlled through fencing and specific bylaws enforceable by provincial agencies.

Since 71 per cent of the site would be designated as natural habitat, the project would provide more protection to the area’s environment than it has now.

Brouwer said the development would not interfere with area agricultural operations. It was billed as a “low-impact environmentally sustainable community co-existing within its agricultural setting.”

A number of supporters of the project also spoke. Neighbour Mark Smith said The Ridge fit in with the county’s bylaws and its vision for maintaining agricultural viability and encouraging growth.

Smith said while all property owners like to be the last one living on the road, the project presented an opportunity to create a beautiful spot for other property owners to enjoy.

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