About sixty people from the Hamlet of New Sarepta gathered at the New Sarepta Agriplex on the evening of October 4th, to both listen to, and have input into, the latest meeting for the new Area Structure Plan.
With the former Village becoming a part of the County it was time to do up a new ASP to decide how the residents, and the County, want to see the hamlet grow.
Looking forward thirty years into the future, with estimated population growth in the area taken into account, residents were presented with many different options for discussion, as well as being repeatedly asked to bring forward any ideas that were not currently on the table but felt could be an option.
The discussion and presentation was led by the Manager of Long Range Planning and Development for Leduc County, Sylvain Losier. Using a colour coded map of New Sarepta and area, it clearly showed the areas labeled for particular types of growth, including residential, commercial, and light industrial.
One resident questioned why there was such a large area coloured in for light industrial when in the previous meetings that designation had never been one that residents said they wanted to see in their area. Comments were made to the effect that New Sarepta residents did not want to have another "Nisku" in their area. Sylvain stated that the County had added the Light Industrial areas in order to keep a ratio of work-to-residence for the expected growth in the hamlet. He did assure everyone that these proposals were just that right now, and the community does have the power to change what is currently proposed if they do not see value in it.
Residents were also shown seven different types of residential developments that could be incorporated into the hamlet. Some of these options were single detached homes, duplexes, row housing, and low rise apartment buildings.
Sylvain commented that apartment buildings might not necessarily be the right choice for the hamlet, but even though it might not be typical for the area, five unit row housing could be envisioned for New Sarepta.
After the options were presented, residents had the opportunity to vote on the types of housing they felt best fit in with the area. They were also encouraged to write on large maps that had been placed on the tables, adding any details they felt were pertinent to the planning. All of the input from residents would be gathered up at the end of the meeting and gone over by County staff, where it would be integrated into the future planning sessions.
Area residents were also shown a proposed new type of country residential planning design called Cluster Subdivisions. It was shown how within the same space as a traditionally planned subdivision, it was proposed to put in fewer lots with much more surrounding, protected green space. Sylvain discussed how, in other areas of the country, this type of new cluster subdivisions were proving to be much more desirable and valuable, with residents willing to pay 20-25% more for these properties.
A question from the audience regarding this new subdivision style inquired if the tax rate on these properties would be larger. Sylvain replied that due to the fact that this is a very new type of development in the Province, they would need to build a couple of them before that could be assessed.
When asked by another resident if the County had "billions of dollars in their jeans" to pay for the infrastructure that would be needed for the proposed expansions, Sylvain replied that currently developers pay most of those expenses but that could change in the future.
Drawing the meeting to a close, Sylvain continued to stress that the ASP is a living document that is not set in stone. In it's current state it is just a draft.
The next steps to be taken after this meeting will be for the County to have a working draft of the ASP finished before Christmas. After that would be a Public Open House in January of 2013, and then possibly a First Reading of the ASP in Council in February.