Rezoning approved for contentious Pine Lake residential project

About a dozen residents express concerns about project to council

Rezoning for a contentious Pine Lake housing development was unanimously approved by Red Deer County council despite neighbours’ objections.

Developers for Aspen Shores Estates plan to build 44 homes at the south end of the lake.

In 2016, council approved an area structure plan for the project, which was opposed by many of the same people who spoke against it Tuesday.

Don Nielsen, who lives across from the proposed development, remains concerned that more housing will further erode the water quality of the small lake.

“Minimal damage may be acceptable for larger lakes such as Sylvan or Slave Lake, but for smaller lakes such as Pine Lake, minimal or even any potential environmental damage is not acceptable,” he told council.

“That poor little lake can’t take any more damage.”

A dozen other residents also spoke against the project, many echoing the concerns about water quality and what might happen if more homes and boats are added.

Concerns about additional traffic and the impact on water sources were also raised.

Developer Jim Perks said water studies have been done and are awaiting approval from Alberta Environment and Parks, which must also approve wastewater treatment plans.

The development intends to use a “state-of-the-art” system that treats water in each home and then a second time, creating near-potable-quality water that goes into a septic field underground.

“This is a very environmental-oriented development.”

Homes will have solar panels to improve energy efficiency and a water recycling system that reduces household water needs by 40 per cent.

The developers hope to get the necessary approvals to begin building the first homes next spring.

Coun. Philip Massier, whose family has lived near the lake for 60 years, spoke strongly in favour of the rezoning application.

Massier said it’s clear that many believe the lake has already been “wrecked” by previous developments, and maybe the county needs to look at how to improve them.

Developments offering new technologies for waste treatment and other issues could be beneficial, he said.

“I’m excited about having some new development at Pine Lake with modernistic technologies that could eventually clean up Pine Lake.”

Council will also have an opportunity to ensure the development meets its expectations when it comes time to approve subdivision, he said.

Coun. Christine Moore, whose family has a home on the lake, said the county will not repeat the development mistakes of the past and reassured those opposed to the project.

“Every concern you raised will be addressed at subdivision time.”

Mayor Jim Wood said the developers appear to have put a lot of thought into how to address wastewater issues. He hoped other developments around the lake could tie into the treatment system in the future.

Following the decision, Nielsen said he was disappointed that council did not take Alberta Environment information about the cumulative effects of people on water quality more into account.

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