Buffalo Lake users support new plan to protect and enhance lake

More than 2,600 residential homes could be added to the northwest part of the County of Stettler under the new Buffalo Lake Inter-municipal development plan (IDP).

At its regular meeting Sept. 7, county council adopted the new IDP that also covers the Summer Village of Rochon Sands, the Summer Village of White Sands, the County of Stettler, Camrose County and Lacombe County.

One week earlier, the IDP was adopted by Lacombe County.

With a total of 7,330 dwelling units allocated in all five growth nodes, including current residences, the County of Stettler holds 40.5 per cent of the total development capacity area with the allocated 2,969 units along the southern and eastern shores.

“With 350 existing units, the county has a potential future development of 2,619 new dwelling units,” said Johan van der Bank, director of planning and development who outlined the highlights.

As the plan boundary expands, the plan covers about county land on the east and south side of the lake about four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the lakeshore.

The plan requires that the governing municipality develop an area structure plan for each growth node and the county and the Summer Village of Rochon Sands and the Summer Village of White Sands will coordinate a project to prepare an area structure plan for the south shore growth node.

No further development will be approved until the growth node area structure plan has been completed.

The IDP recognizes and respects the existing approvals granted by the County of Stettler.

“Landowners of these approvals will participate in the preparation of the south shore growth node area structure plan and their approvals would be incorporated into that plan or may be repealed,” said van der Bank.

The limited-development area may also accommodate developments such as guest ranches, bed-and-breakfast establishments that are allowed under the county’s agricultural district category in the land-use bylaw.

Other highlights for the County of Stettler include:

• The IDP requires a municipal reserve strip along the lakeshore in every multi-lot subdivision

• The IDP requires that every multi-lot subdivision application includes a public access plan with details of improvements to public lake access opportunities and an environmental review.

• A “buffer” or limited-development area between the growth nodes and development outside the IDP boundary is envisaged to accommodate agricultural operations. Such agricultural operations would, however, exclude development of new confined feeding operations (CFO) and the expansion of any existing CFO beyond 50 per cent of its present capacity.