Municipalities find middle ground

Lacombe County and Sylvan Lake have settled their planning differences. A memorandum of understanding between the two municipalities was reached recently with help from a mediator.

Lacombe County and Sylvan Lake have settled their planning differences.

A memorandum of understanding between the two municipalities was reached recently with help from a mediator.

The county appealed Sylvan Lake’s Municipal Development Plan — the over-arching plan guiding development — approved by town council last year.

At issue, were lake protection measures in the plan that the county felt were inadequate or overly vague.

County officials wanted to see a requirement for 30-metre setbacks from the lake and other water bodies and regulations requiring that 50 per cent of land in new developments be maintained as open spaces and municipal reserves. The county also wanted to see it put in writing that new developments must tie into regional water and wastewater systems when they become available, and that outline plans be required for developments smaller than five acres in size.

All of those are requirements in county planning documents and consistency was sought among communities around the lake.

All of the county’s concerns were addressed in the memorandum of understanding and council agreed to sign off on the agreement last week. However, as soon as one planning issue was settled another arose this time with the Summer Village of Jarvis Bay.

An updated Municipal Development Plan submitted to the county for its comment was met with concern by planners.

They want to see language tightened up to show a 30-metre setback from water bodies is required rather than “may” be required. A suggestion that a 30-metre easement be allowed was also questioned because easements remain private property and are not as easily regulated as lands under municipal control.

Also, the county wants to see environmental reviews or audits specifically required on sites up for development within conservation areas.

Requiring 50 per cent of developments be left as open space should also be added, as Sylvan Lake did, say planners.

Docks, piers and boat launches should also not be permitted uses in conservation areas, says the county, or at the very least they should be required to serve a number of lots to reduce the impact on the lake.

Lacombe County manager of planning services Dale Freitag said residents have made it clear they want high development standards set around the lake.

“In order for the lake to be adequately protected we want to make sure everybody is (meeting) the same levels of standards,” he said.

Freitag said while the Jarvis Bay plan has similar goals as the county, changes could be made to strengthen its regulations.

Council voted to forward the county’s concerns to the summer village.

Phyllis Forsyth, administrator for the summer villages, said the county’s letter has not yet been received and she could not comment. It will likely be discussed at Jarvis Bay’s next council meeting on Oct. 7.

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